Tina Turner, the musical, rolls into Seattle!
"TINA – The Tina Turner Musical," is showing at the Paramount, and opening night was electric.
I went with my mom, who is a huge Tina Turner fan, and while she was sad about being reminded of Turner’s passing on our way to the theater, once she saw the marquee and the crowd of fellow attendees, many clad in shimmering garb, she began to light up.
Here’s what to expect: The music is amazing. They squeezed as many songs into this production as they possibly could. And while Turner’s catalog is obviously presented in non-chronological order, the production was successful in weaving songs into Turner’s life story so that her personal quest of humble beginnings, into the tumultuous relationship with Ike Turner, her downfall after leaving Ike, and her rebirth into superstardom are all presented in conjunction with her music in a way that allowed the songs to propel the story.
At intermission, I jokingly asked my mom what she thought of the music, and she was delighted to inform me she sang every song, which I knew, as everyone near us could hear her throughout the act!
Many fans, both casual youngsters like myself, and the dedicated folks like my mom who actually remember Turner’s career, will be familiar with the domestic violence that occurred in Turner’s marriage to Ike. Less known is her early childhood experience.
The production opens with scenes from Turner's childhood in Tennessee and shows the seeds of her troubled relationship with her mother. We see Turner’s father beat her mother on stage, and violence is portrayed at moments throughout the production.
This is an important aspect of Turner's story, and helps solidify the redemption at the end of the play, when we see Turner emerge as the Queen of Rock and Roll and take the stage in Brazil where 188,000 screaming fans are there just for her. But, it is worth noting that if you attend with young children, they will witness depictions of domestic violence.
Who this is for: Anyone who loves musical theater! The pacing is a bit fast, especially in Act 1, where they cram in so much of Turner’s life and upbringing, while still making room for 15 songs.
It was too much for me, especially with Turner’s life in the Deep South, the explosive relationship between her parents, Turner’s mother abandoning her, then Turner’s grandmother sending her to St. Louis to be with her mother — even listing all those points here feels like a lot, and I didn’t give you everything that’s in the production.
Those heavy moments needed more room to breathe and the audience needed more space to sit with the emotions. To feel. Instead, we were whisked from plot point to plot point, with the songs functioning as bridges to connect them.
Despite the issues in pacing, this production worked. And that is in large part due to the performance of Ari Groover as Tina. Her voice was amazing, and if you ever saw Turner on stage, you know how intense the dancing would be!
Groover held her own, embodying the role, and on opening night, performed two additional songs after the conclusion of the play! The music alone makes this production worth seeing, and an added bonus is a chance to see a young star in the making. Symphony King, who played young Tina, starts this play off with bang!
There is a scene in Turner’s Tennessee church, where King’s voice had to have been heard from the parking lot. This kid has pipes! And she makes appearances throughout where she dazzles the crowd.
My Recommendation: If you are looking for something to see this weekend, definitely treat yourself to "The Tina Turner Musical." You will laugh, dance, cringe (yes, you may be a little shaken at times), and cheer. This is part rags-to-riches, part redemption, and full of wonderful recognizable tunes.
"TINA — The Tina Turner Musical," showing at the Paramount Theater until September 17.