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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


4.5 Stars


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.

 

AUSTRALIAN CAST

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


CREATIVE TEAM

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






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