Jukebox musicals can tend to be a bit of a mixed bag in my experience; they often tend to sacrifice artistic quality for commercial success. However, unlike others in some venues close by, Tina the Musical does not only contain fabulously written songs that lend themselves brilliantly to a musical environment, but also contains the nitty-gritty life of Tina Turner, and the songs lend themselves brilliantly to the dramatic experiences of her life. You really can tell that the songs came from a place of truth within Tina, which is why they feel very organic and not shoehorned in.
As if you’d expect anything less, the show starts with a bang, but beautifully flows into a chronological report of the life and struggles Tina experienced until we end off at the conclusion where we started, completing a full circle. We effortlessly transition through periods of Turner’s life, aided by very intricate set design and a cleverly used multiple-revolving stage. The stage size is brilliant for this production as it allows a large space for all performers featured, including scene cameos from the orchestra band themselves, but without losing the performers so that there is still a level of intimacy.
The elephant in the room I have yet to mention is Adrienne Warren’s exceptionally brilliant performance as Tina. This production has been granted with an absolutely stellar cast for Warren to bounce off, but it’s very clear that Warren is leading the show through leaps and bounds. I feel the main reason that the musical is so impactful, is that through Warren’s total embodiment of Tina, guided by the perfectly adjusted settings through lighting, set and costume, we get to journey through Turner’s distressingly eventful life. The only reason we can achieve this is due to the total trust that Warren demands from the beginning through her faultless impersonation of the queen herself. Despite the fact that Warren herself shows no sign of ageing (due to the fact that there is barely ever a moment where she is offstage), she embodies the sense of power and maturity that we hear through the development in Turner’s music. Not only this, but her energy is absolutely second to none. Turner is known for her wildly lively performances, focusing her attention on the audience’s experience and Warren replicates this to a T. I do however have to mention young Claudia Elie who portrays Young Anna Mae. She can only be close to approaching double figures and she has the voice of an absolute powerhouse. I was completely blown away by her singing in the beginning, and I expect great things to come of her as she blossoms into a readily polished performer in years to come.
My only fault in the production is that some moments are skipped over, but due to having such an eventful life, as well as many smash hits that would disappoint an audience if they weren’t featured, it’s clear to see that some moments of truth had to be a minimised version. If it were up to me, I could have watched for many more hours and would still be glued, though I’m not sure poor Warren would want to opt for this through fear of exhaustion! Nonetheless, Tina the Musical is an absolutely brilliant tribute to the woman herself and her phenomena, albeit emotionally rocky career, and as far as jukebox musicals go, this has quite honestly got to simply be one of the best.
Tina the Musical is playing at Aldwych Theatre until 20 October 2018
Photo: Manuel Harlan