We've had the autobiographies, the biopic and the fiftieth-anniversary solo tour. Now here's the jukebox musical of Ike and Tina Turner, whose violent relationship and brilliant recording career coincided, between the '50s and '70s, with seismic social and political shifts.
'Soul Sister' lays on a West End show at East End prices and treats listeners to 23 pinnacles of twentieth-century pop at seat-vibrating volume. 'Dear Deidre' photo casebook-style backdrops set a knowingly cheap confessional tone, as if co-devisers John Miller and Pete Brooks are acknowledging the inevitable clichés. But they still tell a gritty, reciprocal love story.
Chris Tumming's Ike is an egotist whose '50s chauvinism, unlike his image, doesn't evolve through the decades. But it's his body that first magnetises Turner's into that famous shoulder rolling dance. A toweringly emotional 'River Deep, Mountain High' comes after her impassioned defence of Ike to Phil Spector). Both Turners blame his anger on the racism of the music industry. 'Too many brothers had hits and came away with nothing,' he says.
Having lit Tina's fire, Ike comes to resent just how brightly she blazes. And boy does newcomer Emi Wokoma blaze, bringing her own gap-toothed charisma to a role that demands almost as much of the costumiers as her voice. Flames of red sequins lick her thighs as Tina rises from an overdose to prove that, while other women could replace her in Ike's bed, no one could replace her on stage. Seven letters for Wokoma's performance: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
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