TINA: The Tina Turner Musical – Theatre Royal Sydney (NSW)
Book by Katori Hall with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins. Produced for Australian audiences by TEG Dainty and directed by Leah Howard.
Reviewed by Tessa Miles
Theatre Royal Sydney
Until 8th October
Trigger warning: TINA – The Tina Turner Musical delves into powerful themes of family and domestic violence, the use of strong racial language, drug-related content, and the topic of suicide. If you find yourself sensitive to any of these subjects, it is important to be mindful of their portrayal before considering attending this musical production.
- Instantly iconic with powerhouse performances, this will have Australian audiences Nutbush-ing out afterwards -
Tina Turner's extraordinary life, with its myriad of triumphs and challenges, poses a fascinating question: How can one authentically capture the essence of such a journey in a mere 2 hours and 45 minutes? The answer lies within the mesmerising combination of powerful songs, familiar yet powerful choreography, meticulously replicated iconic costumes, and the unmistakable, larger-than-life hairstyles. These elements intertwine to create an immersive experience that encapsulates the essence of Tina Turner's remarkable story.
The musical masterfully captures the essence of Tina’s incredible journey, flawlessly weaving together her highs and lows, triumphs and tribulations. With a compelling script and expert direction (originally directed by Phyllidia Lloyd), the audience is taken on a rollercoaster ride of emotions (which is audibly heard in moments throughout the show), following Tina's rise from humble beginnings to becoming a global music sensation.
Images by Daniel Boud
The musical numbers are the heart and soul of TINA, filling the audience with nostalgia. Each song is flawlessly executed and performed with such precision and heart which leaves any doubts shattered on the floor that the performances wouldn’t do the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll herself justice. The audience is left in awe and craving for more, from the soulful ballads to the high-energy rock 'n' roll hits; the music encapsulates the raw emotions of Tina Turner's life and career. It's impossible not to be moved by the familiar tunes, with the infectious beats and powerful lyrics that have made Tina a music legend.
Ruva Ngwenya delivers a mesmerising performance as Tina Turner, captivating audiences with her emotional range and an unwavering commitment to the character. Ngwenya effortlessly navigates the complexities of Tina's story, leaving viewers yearning for more and breathless from one scene to the next. Her powerful and soulful voice serves as a testament to why she was the perfect choice for this iconic principal role.
Tim Omaji's portrayal of Ike Turner is nothing short of captivating. With charm, confidence, and passion, Omaji captures the essence of Ike while effectively portraying the troubled and sinister aspects of his character. The contrast between Ike's fiery nature and his dark troubles is skilfully portrayed by Omaji, adding depth and complexity to the production.
The supporting and ensemble cast in TINA also shine brightly. Ibinabo Jack's portrayal of Tina's mother, Zelma Bullock, brings an authenticity that resonates with the audience, understanding the pivotal role Zelma played in Tina's life. Jayme-Lee Hanekom's portrayal of Alline Bullock and an Ikette is stunning, injecting playfulness, humour, and just the right amount of charm. Mat Verevis, in the role of Roger Davies, Tina's manager, infuses the production with an unexpected Australian charm, delivering memorable one-liners that make you root for his success throughout the second act.
This musical is a fitting tribute to the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll and the ending will have you experiencing an otherworldly experience not often seen in musical theatre.
The set design of TINA is a visual delight that leaves a lasting impression. The large screen backdrop immediately captures the audience's attention, effortlessly establishing the atmosphere and setting of each scene. The clever use of moving set pieces adds a dynamic element to the stage, creating smooth transitions between different locations and enriching the storytelling experience. The ever-present turntable, a hallmark of modern musicals, injects moments of excitement and dynamism into the choreography. While the set successfully transports viewers to iconic places such as Nutbush, Tennessee, recording studios, motel parking lots, various stages, and even London, there are moments when the graphics displayed on the screen resemble multimedia player visuals.
Choreography by Anthony Van Laast is vibrant and dynamic, showcasing Tina's iconic dance moves in a way that leaves the audience mesmerised. The meticulously replicated costumes (Mark Thompson), from the glitzy stage outfits to the iconic mini dresses, are a feast for the eyes and a nod to Tina's iconic style.
While TINA celebrates the triumphs of Tina Turner's life, it does not shy away from addressing the challenges she faced. Themes of resilience, love, and overcoming adversity are explored with grace and sensitivity, including the sensitive subjects of family and domestic violence, racial issues, drug use, and suicide. But don’t let this stop you from seeing such an iconic show!
With its powerhouse performances, electrifying music, and stunning visuals, this production of TINA will have audiences Nutbush-ing out of the theatre (fun fact only Australia has a dance to the Nutbush). This musical is a fitting tribute to the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll and the ending will have you experiencing an otherworldly experience not often seen in musical theatre. Prepare to be captivated, moved, and inspired by the incredible spirit of Tina Turner, brought to life on stage in a truly unforgettable way.
Ruva Ngwenya Tina Turner
Tim Omaji Ike Turner
Jochebel Ohene MacCarthy Tina Turner Alternate plays Tina Turner at certain performances
Ibinabo Jack Zelma Bullock
Deni Gordon Gran Georgeanna (GG)
Nadia Komazec Rhonda Graam
Jayme-Lee Hanekom Alline Bullock / Ikette / Ensemble
Augie Tchantcho Richard Bullock / Ensemble
Rishab Kern Raymond Hill / Ensemble
Matthew Prime Erwin Bach / Ensemble
Mat Verevis Roger Davies / Ensemble
John O'Hara Phil Spector / Terry Britten / Ensemble
Blake Erickson Carpenter / Martyn Ware / Ensemble
Emily Nkomo Ikette / Ensemble
Rebecca Selley Ikette / Ensemble
Tigist Strode Ikette / Ensemble
Jenni Little Toni / Ensemble
David Mairs-McKenzie Craig / Ensemble
Abu Kebe Ronnie / Ensemble
Kristin Paulse Ensemble
Ina Seidou Tina Turner Cover / Swing plays Tina Turner at certain performances
Tendai Rinomhota Swing / Deputy Fight Captain
Ilana Richardson Swing / Co-Dance Captain
Mia Dabkowski-Chandler Swing
Noel Samuels Swing / Co-Dance Captain
Nicholas Eaton Swing / Fight Captain
Micheal Corey Hassel Swing
Gus Noakes Swing
Paul Alie Young Craig
Aimee Bah Anna Mae
Lucy Bowyer Anna Mae
Myka Champion Young Alline
Cayden Dosoruth Young Craig
Sienna Katelyn Desmier Anna Mae
Amara Kavaliku Anna Mae
Hendrix Marsden Young Craig
Josaiah Moonsamy Young Craig
Camille Nko'o Young Alline
Bianca Papa Young Alline
Khanyisa Tsakanov Young Alline
Tina Turner & Erwin Bach EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
Katori Hall BOOK
Frank Ketelaar & Kees Prins BOOK
Phyllida Lloyd DIRECTOR
Anthony Van Laast CHOREOGRAPHER
Mark Thompson SET & COSTUME DESIGNER
Nicholas Skilbeck MUSICAL SUPERVISOR, ARRANGEMENTS & ADDITIONAL MUSIC
Bruno Poet LIGHTING DESIGNER
Nevin Steinberg SOUND DESIGNER
Jeff Sugg PROJECTION DESIGNER
Campbell Young Associates HAIR, WIGS & MAKEUP DESIGNER
Ethan Popp ORCHESTRATOR
Nicholai La Barrie ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
Simone Mistry-Palmer INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATE CHOREOGRAPHER
Sebastian de Domenico MUSICAL SUPERVISOR
Brian Webb ASSOCIATE SET DESIGNER
Jack Galloway COSTUME ASSOCIATE
Harold Mertens and Wouter Somers ASSOCIATE WIGS, HAIR & MAKE UP DESIGNER
Max Narula INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATE LIGHTING DESIGNER
Simon Fox ASSOCIATE SOUND DESIGNER
Mogzi ASSOCIATE PROJECTION DESIGNER
Leah Howard RESIDENT DIRECTOR
Christina Polimos MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Juliette Verne RESIDENT CHOREOGRAPHER
Matt Bebbington CASTING DIRECTOR
Lauren Wiley CONSULTING CASTING DIRECTOR
Pippa Ailion Casting INTERNATIONAL CASTING
Nigel Poulton INTIMACY & FIGHT DIRECTOR
Cessalee Stovall DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION CONSULTANT
Shelly Lee AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATE SOUND DESIGNER
Kathy Pineo AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATE LIGHTING DESIGNER
Cameron Flint TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
Paul Dainty AO TEG Dainty PRODUCER
Stage Entertainment ORIGINAL PRODUCER