Review: TINA: THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL IS “SIMPLY THE BEST...” TICKET IN TOWN at Straz Center For The Performing Arts

Onstage now through Sunday, February 5, 2023... DO NOT MISS this outstanding cast, that will have you dancing in your seat.

By: Feb. 03, 2023
Review: TINA: THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL IS “SIMPLY THE BEST...” TICKET IN TOWN at Straz Center For The Performing Arts
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"We don't need another hero,

We don't need to know the way home,

All we want is life beyond,

The thunderdome..."

Over the past several years, jukebox musicals have taken the "Great White Way" by storm. From shows such as "Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations," "Jagged Little Pill," "Moulin Rouge," "Girl from the North Country," and more recently "& Juliet," "MJ the Musical," all tell a story surrounded by a book of songs exploring the discography/career of musicians such as Alanis Morissette, The Temptations, Michael Jackson, and Bob Dylan to name a few.

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, is the latest of the jukebox musicals to have launched a National Tour and is taking stages by storm across the country. Featuring music by Tina Turner, and depicting her life from her beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee to Rock & Roll Icon. With a book by Katori Hall (The Hot Wing King), Frank Ketelaar, and Kees Prins, it premiered in London in April of 2018, and made its way to Broadway in November of 2019.

Anna Mae Bullock grew up in Nutbush, Tennessee where she spent her time singing in her community church, where she constantly was loud and everyone would notice. Zelma walks out on Anna Mae and her father citing difficult and painful relationship, and leaves the childhood home with Alline, Anna Mae's older sister, Anna Mae was left to be raised by her Grandmother.

Anna Mae joins Alline and Zelma years later in St.Louis. Pretty soon Alline introduces her sister to the nightlife of the area, Ike Turner and his band. After Anna Mae sings with Ike on stage, he goes to her mother and ask permission for her to join his band. Ike bequeaths Anna Mae with the name Tina Turner.

The remainder of the first half of this rocking jukebox musical depicts the tumultuous ups and downs of Ike and Tina's relationship.

Finally, after years of heartache and abuse at the hands of Ike, Tina leaves him and vows never to come back.

Fast forward several years and we find Tina working in Las Vegas without a record deal because she is pushing 40 years old. While struggling to make ends meet, Tina and Rhonda meet Roger Davies, who attends a performance of hers in Vegas.

Tina travels to London for a recording session with Roger, and meets Erwin Bach. As Tina herself is on the brink of reinvention both personally and in sound, she catches feelings for Erwin.

Roger introduces Tina to "What's Love Got to Do With It?," and helps her discover her sound and finally achieve her first and only #1 single.

With a whopping 22 musical numbers spanning Tina's incredible career, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical will have you dancing and singing to every tune. With a dynamite cast to boot, the talent is explosive and will have you beaming from ear to ear.

Finding a performer to play Tina would be a hard task to mount, I mean sure the vocals are important, but more importantly, does the one playing the title role have the stamina? Like a high-speed train, Tina takes off and never looks back. The power the young performer has not only in vocals but in pure stamina is an essential layer of the show. They say that every so often you catch lightning in a bottle and in Zurin Villanueva the bolt has been captured, sealed and contained, ready to burst at any moment.

Zurin is absolutely dynamic, and charismatic as our Tina. She absolutely sings the hell out of the role, and even has a slight twang to her voice, we've all known Tina to posses.Her uncanny resemblance to Tina is astounding, even her legs look just like Tina's! Highlights of the night include, "Private Dancer," "What's Love Got to Do With It?," "Proud Mary," "The Best,"and "We Don't Need Another Hero," Zurin can sing anything and we would immediately be captured, pulled in, and catapulted to new heights with every note. Tina herself would be immensly proud of the work shown here, and I for one am humbled I was in the room, to experience her power. I count my blessings, because a performer like Zurin doesn't come around too often, and I would 1000% move mountains to be in her presence again.

As Ike Turner, Garrett Turner is dynamic in vocal power, and stage presence. He makes sure you don't like him. The dynamic captured between him and Zurin's Tina is exceptional. His Ike Turner is truly the guy you love to hate. His standout moments of the night include, "Rocket 88/Matchbox," "She Made My Blood Run Cold,"and "It's Gonna Work Out Fine." The intensity in his moments of anger are what truly sell this for me. There is a moment where he crashes a cymbal that needs to be seen. You feel the weight and his presence in every moment to moment. The other intriguing thing about his character was this staging idea to use him as a haunting image/memory in Tina's mind especially in, "I Can't Stand the Rain."

As Zelma Bullock, Roz White is no-nonsense and 100% business. What Mama says goes, and she has a way of proving her point at every turn. You feel for her pain in her relationship with her husband that causes her to leave, but you almost wish she was a better mother to those girls. Her vocals shine through on, "It's Gonna Work Out Fine."

Lael Van Keuren is wonderful as Rhonda, Tina's Manager. You can tell she wants the best for Tina, especially once Ike is out of the picture. Her moment with Zurin during "Open Arms," is a highlight of the evening and shows the extent of their friendship.

As Roger Davies, Zachary Freier-Harrison provides much needed comic relief to the story. He see the best in Tina and wants her to succeed. His moments with Zurin and Max Falls' Erwin are outstanding. The scene in which he introduces "What's Love Got to Do With It," was really well done, and showed the extent of him wanting to help Tina no matter the cost.

The chemistry between Zurin and Max Falls, Tina and Erwin respectively, shows how innocent their relationship began, and how much it blossoms over time.

Rounding out the rest of the exceptional company is Ann Nesby (Gran Georgeanna), Geoffrey Kidwell (Phil Spector, Terry Britten, 1st Police Officer), Carlton Terrence Taylor (Club Announcer, Richard Bullock), Taylor A Blackman (Raymond), Aliyah Caldwell (Ikette #1), Reyna Guerra (Ikette #2), Takia Hopson (Ikette #3), Parris Lewis (Alline, Ikette #4), Andre Hinds (Craig), Chris Stevens (Carpenter, Tv Host, 2nd Police Officer, Martyn), Antonio Beverly (Ronnie), Lillian Charles (Young Alline, Young Craig), and Ayvah Johnson (Young Anna-Mae). The incredible swings for the tour, Karen Burthwright, Gordia Hayes, Nia Nelson-Williams, Terance Reddick, Shari Washington Rhone, Jacob Roberts-Miller, and Jeff Sullivan.

Special mention goes to Ayvah Johnson for singing like I have never heard before. Wherever that voice came from, now is the time to harness it, and let everyone know who you are, you are a star in the making, and should be exceptionally proud of the beautiful work you provided.

This Company provided exceptional, dynamic, and fine-tuned performances, not a weak link to be had, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical has it all and is "Simply the Best..." time you'll have at the theatre!

With keen Direction from Phyllida Lloyd the life and times of Tina Turner, come exploding off the stage from the first note to the final bow. Tremendous work, expert pacing keeps the show moving at a rapid pace. I especially loved the use of the onstage costume changes/reveals. To intricately work this idea into a scene change, allowed for a more clear through-line and passing of events.

With outstanding Choreography by Anthony Van Laast, you could've swore Tina was in front of you, live! The intricate choreography really shined during "Proud Mary," and the larger group numbers. All coming together to tell a cohesive story. ]

Sets and Costumes by Mark Thompson seamlessly come together to project the audience into the time period of the story. Coupled with exceptional lighting design by Bruno Poet, and the absolutely stunning visual projections created by Jeff Sugg, its as if the lighting/ projections come together as a character all their own to lend themselves to the telling of the story.

Lastly, Music Direction by Anne Shuttlesworth, and Associate Music Directing by Patricia "Tish" Diaz, helped create the cadence behind all of the Tina songs we know and love. Folks, let me be the first to tell you, the Band alone is worth the price of admission. The finale really lets them come together and show off, and the absolutely masterful musicianship coming out of the band will leave you saying wow! Hats off to Ralph Agresta (Guitars), John Toney (Bass), Tarus Lovely (Drums), Anne Shuttlesworth/ Patricia "Tish" Diaz (Keyboards).

If you know nothing about Tina Turner outside of her music, then you should purchase a ticket. If you know all about her, and are her biggest fan, then you should purchase a ticket. If you want to spend an evening in the theatre, dancing and singing in your seat, then you should definitely purchase a ticket. Simply the most fun I've had in a theatre in some time, you can find tickets by visiting Hurry, don't wait too long, for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, must close Sunday. If you are looking for something to do this week, then look no further, for the Straz Center for the Performing Arts and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical have come together to bring you "SIMPLY THE BEST..." ticket in town!

"What's love got to do, got to do with it?

What's love but a second-hand emotion?

What's love got to do, got to do with it?

Who needs a heart, when a heart can be broken..."



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