TINA: The Musical is a captivating look at the music icon’s life

TINA: The Tina Turner Musical is an absolute must-see for fans of the songstress and anyone who appreciates an inspirational story. And with the sad news of Tina’s passing, it feels even more special seeing this show in person that acts as a fitting tribute to her talent and legacy, writes Cathy Wagstaff. 

I knew I was in for an unforgettable experience from the moment the curtain rose. Over the next two hours, I was transported through the remarkable life of Tina Turner, a true music legend, as I caught the Australian premiere of TINA: The Tina Turner Musical.

Originally premiering in London’s West End in 2018, the musical has since been nominated for 37 awards, including Best New Musical (Olivier Awards) and Best Musical (Tony Awards) on the back of the Broadway run from 2019. Now, the TINA show has made its way to Sydney, wowing audiences at the Theatre Royal with its heart-pumping production with the Australian offering living up to its London hype. It delivers a dynamic show that has you hooked from the first song.

From small blues bars to global superstardom

The musical depicts the life and struggles of Turner and how she finally reached stardom from her humble beginnings as Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, Tennessee. From playing small jazz and blues bars to meeting her future husband, Ike Turner, and her rise to global superstardom. It’s a story of resilience, determination, and the indomitable spirit of a powerful female artist who defied all odds to be top of her game for over 40 years.

Outstanding performances by the Australian cast are led by Ruva Ngwenya, who embodies the adult Tina Turner with incredible passion and conviction. Her vocal prowess and raw energy electrify the stage through Tina’s music, belting out her biggest songs that cross pop, rock, blues, and R&B.

The supporting cast are equally impressive delivering performances directed by Phyllida Lloyd that bring to life the various characters who played a significant role in Tina’s journey. Tim Omaji’s portrayal of Ike Turner is mesmerising, capturing the complexity of his tempestuous relationship with Tina and their shared chemistry making the show even more compelling. While the star of the show – for me – was the young Tina played by Aimee Bah who was terrific in the part.

Tina Turner Musical Sydney
Ruva Ngwenya as Tina Turner © Daniel Boud

Spectacular sets and costumes that dazzle

The set designs seamlessly transport us from small-town America to the glitz and glamour of Tina in the 1980s. The costumes dazzle – not just from the sequins – reflecting the different eras of Tina’s long career. The choreography by Anthony van Lasst is on point, capturing Tina’s iconic dance moves. Yet it’s the musical performances that are undoubtedly the highlight of the show. From What’s Love Got To Do With ItPrivate DancerProud Mary and Nutbush City Limits, Ruva’s raw vocal talent is balanced with a softer soulfulness, backed by an incredible live band, creates an electric atmosphere that had the entire theatre on its feet and worthy of its standing ovation come curtain fall. It’s a reminder of Tina’s music success, which has earned 12 Grammys and has sold over 200 million records.

Tina Turner Musical Sydney
The costumes dazzle and not just from the sequins © Daniel Boud

Celebrating Tina Turner’s long legacy

From incredible performances to outstanding production, TINA: The Tina Turner Musical celebrates the songstress’s legacy with an unforgettable night at the theatre. It’s a testament to the enduring power of Turner’s story, and hats off to the talented Australian cast, who perform over 20 of her iconic songs. The show carries a message of resilience that resonates, reminding us that we all have the strength to overcome adversity and pursue our dreams, just as Tina did. She showed us true “girl power” well before the Spice Girls and continues to showcase it through her namesake show. And with the news of Tina’s passing, seeing this show in person feels even more special and acts as a fitting tribute to her talent and legacy. 

TINA: The Tina Turner Musical is now playing at Theatre Royal Sydney until 22 October.

Tina Turner Musical Sydney
TINA showcases true “girl power” © Daniel Boud

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