Tina: The Tina Turner Musical: Review – Simply the Best!


Get down to the Aldwych Theatre immediately to be rollin' on the river with Tina!

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Trigger Warning: This article and the musical it discusses contains themes of domestic violence, suicide and racism.

There is no better feeling than finally getting through to buy £25 rush tickets for a West End musical. After tapping constantly for about half an hour and being greeted only with ‘All tickets are currently being held by other customers’, when the screen changed to a payment screen saying that we had secured stalls tickets for Tina, my mum and I could have screamed with excitement on the train. After all, Tina was the number one musical that we had hoped to score tickets for.

As the title, of course, suggests, the musical focuses on the life and career of Tina Turner, from her childhood in Tennessee to her triumphant reinvention and return to the music business in the eighties. It is a jukebox musical featuring all of her best known, and perhaps also lesser known tracks.

Although a Broadway production of the musical has been running since 2019, it was at the Aldwych Theatre in London’s West End that the show premiered in 2018. It felt special, therefore, to see the musical in its very place of origin.

There are two actresses alternating the role of Tina Turner in this London production: Kristina Love and Elesha Paul Moses. On the night we saw the show, Kristina Love was performing as Tina, and she was nothing short of outstanding. Not only did she have the most incredible singing voice, but her mannerisms and performance made you forget that you were not actually at a Tina Turner concert. She entirely encapsulated and became Tina Turner, whilst also emotionally capturing the vulnerabilities and sufferings of Anna Mae Bullock, Tina’s real name and the individual beneath the ‘Tina’ stage persona.

As most people will know, Tina Turner’s off-stage life was often far from the swagger and confidence projected when she performed, and the musical refuses to shy away from this. The show explores the racism faced by Tina throughout her career, an attempt to end her life, her complex and strenuous relationship with her mother, and, most prominently, the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband and musical collaborator, Ike Turner. These violent scenes are gut-wrenching and difficult to watch, ranging from when Ike first discovered Anna Mae Bullock and gave her her stage name, to when she walked out on him, taking nothing but her two sons and that very stage name.

The show’s second half focuses on Tina’s return to stardom following leaving Ike. It is noticeably more light-hearted than the very heavy but important first half, but still retains elements of these intense themes. Tina deals with the fallout from her divorce with Ike, and faces racism from record labels when attempting to make a comeback. However, what makes the show so inspiring is the sheer resilience of Tina, perfectly captured by Kristina Love. Despite the pain she has endured, Tina’s tenacity never wanes, causing a record label to beg on their knees for her forgiveness, granting her millions of dollars to work with her. She also meets her future husband, Erwin Bach, and falls in love again.

The release of ‘The Best’ and ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’ catapults Tina back to fame, with the latter becoming her first US number one single. At the musical’s end, the audience are treated to a concert-style performance of ‘The Best’, which, again, felt like we were attending a real Tina Turner concert due to Love’s exceptional performance and vocals. Although the entire show was astounding, the encore was truly a highlight, particularly the performance of ‘Proud Mary’. The entire theatre stood up, danced and sang along, giving the cast, particularly Love, a standing ovation.

The show’s many wig changes throughout the different stages of Tina’s career were seamless, and the costumes, particularly the crystal-adorned dresses Turner was famed for in her earlier career, were stunning. The exploration of different decades of Tina’s life and career felt like time travel, as if the audience were experiencing changes in style and sound with her.

My Mum said at the end of the performance, as we were leaving the Aldwych Theatre, ‘I think that’s the best show I’ve ever seen’, and I would have to agree. Even not knowing the entire back-catalogue of Tina’s songs did not place a barrier between me and my enjoyment of the show. I was not only able to enjoy the classics that I knew of, but it introduced me to some Tina Turner tracks that I had never heard of.

Tina is a truly outstanding jukebox musical, filled with equal parts sadness and joy. It is the show’s refusal to ignore the brutality endured by Tina in so many aspects of her life that makes her return to fame all the more triumphant and exhilarating to watch. It is a musical that perhaps many would overlook in favour of more famed and long-running productions on the West End, but it is not to be missed. I will be going to watch it again as soon as possible! Simply the best.

You can watch the trailer for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical here:


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In the top 0.01% of Duran Duran listeners on Spotify in 2020. Also Records Editor for 2022/2023.

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