Reviewed by Nyla Arslanian
Anticipation was in the air as
TINA: The Tina Turner Musical arrived at the Hollywood Pantages and the audience was not disappointed.
Of particular note was the opening number that clearly established young Tina, then known as Anna-Mae, her love of music and roots in gospel. Played superbly by Ayvah Johnson, although she is only in this opening segment, she does make a reprise appearance toward the end of the play to everyone's delight.
Depiction of spousal abuse both by Tina's father and then by Ike Turner was not glossed over not were the hard times she went through following her divorce. Interspersed throughout, were wonderful song and dance segments and Naomi Rodgers in the starring role did not disappoint. Gerard M. Williams as possible love interest Raymond had a nice moment. Roderick Lawrence, however, could have played Ike Turner a little more forcefully.
Tina Turner's Walk of Fame star is in front of Capitol Records. The story of her "second" career and reluctance of the record company to sign her was one of the plays most interesting segments with lending credibility to this fantastic story. What a wonderful life!
Reading the program I was confused why there were two actresses playing Tina. However, the demands on an actress in this role not only replicating Tina Turners amazing voice, but accompanied by strenuously energetic dance numbers, it's an exhausting part.
With such a rich story and familiar music, stage settings were minimal throughout the many scenes with the exception of the triumphant finale that had everyone on their feet. Having seen the show only on opening night, I don't know if other audiences are given a two number encore which, of course, earned more than one standing ovation.
TINA closes July 9 with performances Tues-Sat at 8pm, matinees Sat at 2pm and Sun at 1pm; Sunday performance at 6:30pm.