When Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne took on the roles of Tina and Ike Turner, you could not tell anyone in the Hip-Hop community that there was ever going to be anyone to ever touch these roles.
But the cast of the Broadway show, Tina- The Tina Turner Musical, came pretty damn close to changing our minds.
Without giving away any spoilers, because if you can afford the tickets you should buy one, there is something magical about Adrienne Warren’s portrayal of America’s first Rock Diva.
She strut up and down the stage with the confidence of a pro, which makes sense since she developed the role overseas in the West End. While in the London production, she was met with critical acclaim- snatching the Olivier, Evening Standard & WhatsOnStage Award Nominations for her category. What made her so dope? Well if you remember how crazy Bassett’s body was… Warren’s actual vocals matched that level of exceptional-ity. She just shined on each song- making you want to don a jean jacket and get a spike hyper-blow out and get your entire 1980’s on.
She was/ is fantastic.
But also… Daniel Watts’ Ike Turner was brilliantly different than Fishburne’s. He brought a charisma to the stage that was not in the film. You saw how Ike was a broken man looking to find the celebrity that he thought was owed him, and through a mixture of drugs, toxic masculinity and genius he saw Tina as the channel to which he would find immortality. That’s deep. Watts made you think about the severe psychosis of a man that was always being replaced… by another musician… by another man… by another woman… by another stolen moment. Just as much as you hated him, you also felt bad for him. He was trapped by his own sh*tty station in America- where race has everything to do with your shake as your gifts do.
No one exemplified this more than Dawn Lewis’ imaging of Tina’s mom. Dr. Dawn Lewis, one of Hip-Hop’s favorite character’s from one of our favorite shows, played Turner’s mom, Zelma. Tough at the core, she reminded us how generational the Turner story is. She in one grand swoop represented those women who endured physical abuse just enough for their kids to have stability… but finally breaking with that stability is threatened by her personal breaking point. We know them. They are our grandmothers, our Nanas, Madeas and Mom Moms. Those women who opted to do it alone, than to live under tyranny and vicious levels of trauma.
Zelma’s reality, no matter how she tried to shift it, was the looking glass that reflected for a very long time Turner’s life. So much a like their stories… yet ironically both characters failed to see the resemblance- particularly as they sought over and over again, reconciliation.
Another highlight of the musical is young Anna Mae (y’all do know Tina Turner’s real name was Anna Mae?), Skye Turner. We first fell in love with her big voice and that infectious smile on The Steve Harvey Show, when she met her idol Patti Labelle. Now, she literally blows everyone away as a young Tina. Now, we don’t know if the real young Anna Mae could belt like that… But if she did… we wonder why she opted to sing in the raspy contralto that she became famous for. Regardless, she was so delightful and entertainment. Actually, she was very endearing, still with the glow on first time gypsying on her face each time she touched the stage.
If you were born in the 80s, the musical memory lane was fulfilling. It was interesting to see how the songs that ultimately defined her career were crafted, as it was also interesting to see how she for her Stella on during the most transformation season of her life.
All and all, this musical made us hold our breath like the movie, but had us up and dancing like the movie could never do. It’s an A+ production and worthy of the pricey tag for admission.