Review: TINA - THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL at CAA Ed Mirvish Theatre

The triumphant life and unmistakable voice of the late great Tina Turner takes the CAA Ed Mirvish Theatre stage until July 28 2024.

By: Jun. 26, 2024
Review: TINA - THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL at CAA Ed Mirvish Theatre
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When considering the most influential performers in the history of rock, Tina Turner's talent and legacy is counted among titans. Her voice, her signature growl, is unmistakable. Her determination to succeed and survive despite years of abuse at the hands of her husband set her apart from the rest. Tina - The Tina Turner Musical, (book by Katori Hall with Frank Katelaar and Kees Prins, directed by Phyllida Lloyd) includes Tina's biggest hits like "River Deep - Mountain High", "Proud Mary", "What's Love Got to Do With It", and "Private Dancer". The show takes the stage at the CAA Ed Mirvish Theatre highlighting the success and struggles of the star that defied the odds.

Tina starts with a young Anna Mae Bullock (played by Brianna Cameron). Anna Mae was Tina's birth name before the Tina Turner stage moniker was thrown at her. Anna Mae was a young bright spirit who sang from her soul as a child. Anna Mae's father was abusive to her mother and her mother took our her anger on Anna Mae. As a rebellious teen, Anna Mae meets singer Ike Turner (Deon Releford-Lee) who sweeps her away with the promise of fame and fortune. Ike bestows upon Anna Mae the stage name Tina Turner to match his.

Thus starts the tumultuous life of Tina Turner (played by Zurin Villanueva in this performance) a young woman with a powerful voice suppressed by Ike's horrific temper and physically abusive nature. Needless to say, this show comes with a heavy trigger warning for domestic violence and I have to say, I like that this performance did not hold back or shy away from the abuse Tina endured. Tina's story is a beacon for survivors and victims of domestic violence and despite that certain scenes may be hard to watch, seeing her resilience persevere is the driving force in this story.

Releford-Lee deserves accolades and respect for his portrayal of Ike Turnrer. Taking on a villainous role is not an easy task and to be able to portray them with such fervor that the audience wholeheartedly shares in their despise of the character needs to be recognized.

Villanueva is incredible as Tina Turner. Tina's voice is distinctive - her soulful growl is difinitive of her as a performer and it is imperative that any actor that takes on this role be able to replicate that growl seamlessly. Villanueva has tackled this gargantuan task and her prowess in delivering Tina's signature music is immaculate. Her acting chops also stand out here with emotional resonance making her performance a complete joy to behold.

Roz White takes on the complex role of Tina's mother Zelma Bullock. Complex as Tina's relationship with her mother had been strained up to the point of Zelma's passing and White's performance here gave compassion to the role that it needed. Her words to Tina that prompted her to walk away from the abuse are powerful. 

The creative team has outdone themselves with the staging of this production - including music direction by Dani Lee Hutch, Jeff Sugg's projection design, Mark Thompson's set and costumes, and choreography by Anthony Van Laast - bringing this show to life from all directions. Her performance scenes stand out and it feels like you're in the audience for her biggest shows.

As far as jukebox musicals go, Tina - The Tina Turner Musical ranks high, it's a stage spectacle certainly worth seeing for Tina fans old and new.     

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy


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