A scene from the national company of "Tina"

Review: 'Tina' Wows in National Tour Debut

Will Demers READ TIME: 2 MIN.

The Providence Performing Arts Center has pulled out all the stops to kick off their 2022/2023 season with the National Tour of "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical" based on the life of the legendary performer, who assisted with the production in 2018 for its successful world premiere in London. The show is directed by Tony-award nominee Phyllida Lloyd with choreography that is nothing short of dazzling by Anthony Van Laast (also a Tony nominee).

"Tina" opened on Broadway November 2019 and suffered the same fate of many shows: an 18-month industry shutdown due to the Covid 19 pandemic. It returned and wrapped up its run this past August. But if there's a comeback as sparking and relevant as Turner's herself, it's this bombastic and colorful touring production. Two actresses share the title role, Naomi Rodgers and Zurin Villanueva. Naomi was featured during this reviewer's performance and her embodiment of Turner's powerful voice and personality cannot be understated. 

The supporting cast is just fabulous, Garrett Turner's Ike is pitch perfect and as the singer was, a fiery womanizing mess of a man. Ann Nesby fleshes out Tina's Gran with dignity and wisdom, and Roz White portrays the mother who abandons her at a very young age as a firecracker of a woman, herself abused by her preacher husband (Carlton Terrence Taylor.) Both are solid performances. But as young Anna-Mae (Tina's real name) Ayvah Johnson gives it her all, foreshadowing the strong woman she'll eventually become. 

The narrative follows her humble beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee, to a tumultuous relationship with Ike and eventually a struggle to get her career reinvigorated as she approached her 44th birthday. As other musical biographies do, it doesn't shy away from the darker aspects of her life, and we get a sense of what Turner had to endure in her personal life as well as in the music industry of her time. Ageism, racism, and physical abuse were a part of her existence, yet she overcame it all to become a top selling artist and performer in her 40s. 

Nominated for 12 Tony Awards including Best Musical, it's not difficult to see why "Tina" is such a crowd pleaser. Its concert vibes echo Turner's successful touring life and onstage presence, with Rodgers giving it her all. This is the first stop on the National Tour and, if you don't get yourself a ticket to see this one in our fair city, you'll be filled with regret.

"Tina - The Tina Turner Musical" is running through Sept. 18 at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) 220 Weybosset St., Providence, RI 02903. For information or tickets call 401-421-2787 or visit www.ppacri.org

by Will Demers

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