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‘Tina – The Tina Turner Musical’ review

Theatre, Musicals Aldwych Theatre , Aldwych Until Saturday June 27 2020
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(6user reviews)
 (© Manuel Harlan)
© Manuel Harlan Adrienne Warren (Tina Turner)
 (© Manuel Harlan)
© Manuel HarlanAdrienne Warren as Tina Turner
 (© Manuel Harlan)
© Manuel Harlan Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Ike Turner)
 (© Manuel Harlan)
© Manuel Harlan
 (© Manuel Harlan)
© Manuel Harlan Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Ike Turner) and Madeline Appiah (Zelma Bullock)
 (© Manuel Harlan)
© Manuel Harlan Hannah Jay-Allan, Adrienne Warren, Perola Congo and Sia Kiwa (Tina and the Ikettes)
 (© Manuel Harlan)
© Manuel Harlan Adrienne Warren (Tina Turner) and Natey Jones (Raymond Hill)
 (© Manuel Harlan)
© Manuel Harlan Adrienne Warren (Tina Turner), Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Ike Turner)
 (© Manuel Harlan)
© Manuel Harlan Adrienne Warren (Tina Turner)
 (© Manuel Harlan)
© Manuel Harlan Adrienne Warren (Tina Turner)

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

The tunes are great and Adrienne Warren is magnificent, but domestic abuse and jukebox musical are a weird fit

Is a feelgood jukebox musical the absolute best medium to tell a story about domestic abuse? Put crudely, that is the problem at the heart of big-budget global premiere ‘Tina – The Tina Turner Musical’. The erstwhile Anna Mae Bullock’s eventful life and beloved back catalogue are perfect subjects for adaptation. But too often Phyllida Lloyd’s production struggles to make a sensitive synthesis of the two.

Where ‘Tina’ undoubtedly succeeds is in the casting of its lead. Broadway performer Adrienne Warren is virtually unknown over here, but it’s instantly apparent why she was tapped up for this. She doesn’t so much imitate Turner as channel her: her technically dazzling but achingly world-weary gale of a voice feels like it should be coming out of a woman decades, if not centuries, older. And while Warren doesn’t really look anything like Turner, she perfectly captures that leggy, rangy, in-charge physicality. From a musical standpoint, she virtually carries the show, singing nigh-on every song and even giving us an encore at the end.

Almost as good is heavyweight Brit actor Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, who brings a demonic charisma to the role of Ike Turner. Tina’s abusive bandleader and husband is monstrous in his self-pitying, manipulative rage, but it’s not hard to see the appeal of his raw wit and powerful sense of certainty. It is a deadly serious performance.

But the talented creative team of director Lloyd and writer Katori Hall never really crack the correct way to use their leads. 

At its absolute best, the first half of ‘Tina’ conveys the sickening lurch of the ’60s spinning out of control, all twitchy druggy dancing and wailed vocals under Jeff Sugg’s queasily churning projections. Needless to say, this doesn’t necessarily sit that well with the idea of having a jolly good singalong to Tina’s hits. Hall’s book is not exactly gratuitously grim, and certainly avoids painting its subject as a helpless victim. We know she’s strong. But there’s no getting away from the fact that ‘Tina’ contains upsetting scenes of spousal violence, not to mention a fair amount of swearing and frequent use of the N-word. It certainly feels complicated telling this story via the medium of showstopping musical numbers, and it’s difficult to exactly enjoy it, even though we’re clearly being invited to do so.

The second, post-Ike half is less problematic and essentially details Tina’s efforts to drag herself out of her wilderness years and become a bona-fide solo superstar. It has a much less compelling story than the first half, though, and there’s perhaps something a liiiiittle awkward about the way in which the story is pushed along by a couple of white saviour figures (a record label wonk and an affable German boyfriend) who descend from the gods to drag Tina out of the doldrums.

Lloyd directs fluidly and at a pace, but there is, also, a weird feeling of it being clogged with ephemera. Do we need interludes about Tina’s Buddhism? A load of stuff on her not-very-interesting new boyf? A studio scene featuring Heaven 17? Her cover of Iggy Pop’s ‘Tonight’? I can’t help but wonder if one price of the real Turner’s involvement in the show was incorporating elements of her life that feel more important to her than us.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s an entertaining night, brilliantly performed. By the time Warren busts out ‘The Best’ and reprises of ‘Nutbush City Limits’ and ‘Proud Mary’ for the mini-concert at the end, the roof is suitably blown off.

But the inevitable closing euphoria doesn’t feel like it vindicates the queasy journey. Turner was, apparently, not greatly in favour of the project but decided to lend her support on the grounds that it was going to happen anyway. I’d say her ambivalence was justified.


Venue name: Aldwych Theatre
Address: 49
Transport: Tube: Covent Garden/Holborn; Rail/Tube: Charing Cross
Price: £10-£129.50. Runs 2hr 45min

Dates And Times

Users say (6)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

Adrienne Warren is quite simply sensational. Her charisma lights up the stage & you can’t take your eyes off her. This is no Tina Turner impersonator. I suspect this is the closest I will ever come to appreciating the legendary Ms Turner in a live performance. Obviously the music is fantastic & the incredible true life story is shocking, tragic & ultimately inspirational. This quite rightly is one of the hottest tickets in the west end

This was a Birthday Gift, the Production was very good. However the theater staff both  outside/inside are very abrupt and herd you around like cattle. There is a huge climb to Grand Circle and , when we got to our seat to find a very cramped seating A26, A27 even Ryanair wouldn't sell these seats, and they would book the toilet if they could, it is not built for a six foot frame, who has hip knee and ankle disability.

Then 25 min into the production, I was interrupted by an abrupt female usher with 9 yes nine late arrivals all sitting in the A row in the middle, but like any person you all have to stand up upset the 10-15 people in the row. Also spoil the view and enjoyment of the performance of 20-30 people behind you. None of these arrogant customers said sorry, the staff should have told them they cant sit down until the break! If people cant be bothered to get to the theater on time they should watch from the sidelines until the break!! Not disturb the entire Theater and performance for others just because they have a few bux, and tip the ushers along the way!

So we let them all in and the last person slipped the woman usher £20 whish she quickly slipped into her pocket, as she did, she said to me, can you knot put a small bag of minstrels on the soft cushion in front of me, I have just got up because you asked me to get up, upset my enjoyment of the performance and now you want to try telling me off for putting my sweets down in front of me when I got up to let the ungrateful group of 9 people in??? REALLY

Left a sour taste in my mouth!!! Totally arrogant ushers cramped seating, painful climb, Great performance though, pity the staff there let the whole thing down, that with the very cramped seating for a 6 ft Man!


I had high expectations for this show and sadly it just didn't live up to them! I think having watched 'What's love got to do with it' perhaps put me at a disadvantage as I think the film was so well cast and is quite a tough watch in parts because it is an emotional story to tell, sadly I think the emotion was lost in this musical. I know it is difficult to deal with tough issues in a musical and a little contradictory but the domestic violence scenes, some people in the audience were giggling at, which I do truly feel that says more about them then the production but really isn't the desired reaction! Tina Turner's shoes are big shoes to fill and the lead, whilst could dance and mimic Tina's mannerisms quite well, her voice just wasn't strong enough and the songs were just too big for her. It sounded like she had a cold maybe and perhaps her voice was stronger on other nights but sometimes it was actually a little difficult on the ears! Ike also didn't have a particularly strong voice and I don't think played a great part. The soundtrack was a saving grace as there are obviously some massive hits but sadly this wasn't enough for me overall to save the show and I did struggle sitting through it. 


I havent had the best experiences with soundtrack musicals in the pass as the story doesnt meet the quality of the songs.

TINA was different, the actoring coupled with the spectactular vocals provided an amazing evening.

I learnt alot of the person behind the music, and with songs like simply the best and proud mary you leave the theatre buzzing.


Even if you don't particularly like Tina Turner's music, this musical is worthwhile watching as her life story is amazing.  As a feelgood musical, this hits all the right spots and has drama, emotion and an inspiring story.  The cast are all brilliant!


It would be impossible to write a musical about Tina's life without including the history of domestic abuse from Ike, it was 16 years of her career and what makes her story and how after it all, she rebuilt her career in her 40s no less. I thought the production was fantastic. Adrienne Warren was incredible playing Tina, her dance moves and singing really were impressive and I would definitely recommend it to all Tina fans. Yes, it is emotional, but it's also upbeat and you leave on a high. Yes Tina! 

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