Oscar E Moore

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TINA The Tina Turner Musical starring doppelganger Adrienne Warren

November 19th, 2019 by Oscar E Moore

This fearless, extraordinarily talented firecracker named Adrienne Warren ignites this long-winded jukebox journey of the still very much alive Tina Turner (executive producer) who graced the opening at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre a few nights ago resulting in Adrienne Warren being sanctified into that special select category called superstardom.

She is amazing.  As is Tina Turner.  Tina who survived the abusive and egocentric Ike Turner (Daniel J. Watts) who discovered Anna-Mae, changed her name and beat her more often than not.  Tina who after getting a divorce from Ike and losing everything found the strength to reinvent herself and her music to become a major star; finally finding her long-standing soulmate Erwin Bach (Ross Lekites) – but don’t blink as you might miss him.

And it is truly amazing that her most perfect doppelganger has been found to tell her tumultuous story – Adrienne Warren.

But do not expect to see her performing Wednesday and Saturday matinees.  That difficult task belongs to Nkeki Obi-Melekwe.  I hope she is as sensational as Adrienne Warren.

It has taken three writers (Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins) to come up with the chock-a-block superficial book that sometimes is as limp and boring as a Wikipedia summary.  It is only when the songs take center stage with our illustrious star that this musical soars.  And it does.  Intermittently.

Even when the songs don’t exactly fit the plot (as it is) or the songs are not given enough time to breathe and build – they sometimes just segue into yet another scene with more characters.  Even when due to the sound design (Nevin Steinberg) the words are unintelligible.  Even when die-hard fans start to applaud the first intro notes of whatever song is going to be sung.  Cheering it merrily along.

And it is the fans who are paying to hear her music.  And there is a lot of it to be heard.  The best being an après-curtain call coda, a mini-concert that shakes the rafters as Adrienne Warren, dressed in a typical Tina outfit and bewigged in a typical Tina wig and ascending and descending up and down a flight of stairs in typical stiletto heels after almost two and a half hours of being beaten and downtrodden and fighting for her career we see and hear a survivor who deserves all that she has achieved.

What’s love got to do with it?  As it turns out.  An awful lot.

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd who let the genie out of the bottle – let loose the genre of jukebox musicals with the mother of them all MAMA MIA!

Perhaps it’s time to simply do a concert of the music and forego any attempt of making songs fit the life of whomever.  They seem to come and go.  One after another.  Only the strongest survive.  Perfect example: Tina Turner.

www.tinaonbroadway.com  2hrs 40 minutes – one intermission

Photos:  Manuel Harlan

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