Theatre Review: 'TINA – The Tina Turner Musical' at the … – MD Theatre Guide

Zurin Villanueva as Tina Turner in in the North American touring production of “TINA – The Tina Turner Musical.” Photo by Matthew Murphy.
In an era where it feels like a new biopic is released every month, bio-musicals are a little harder to come by. While it might be the first bio-musical for many audience members, the Broadway tour of “TINA: The Tina Turner Musical” proves itself to be one of the best across all biographical, entertainment productions.
…one of the best across all biographical, entertainment productions…The crowd was dancing and singing along in one of the biggest expressions of joy I have seen in a theatre.
“TINA: The Tina Turner Musical” premiered first in London on April 17, 2018 before eventually starting a Broadway run on November 7, 2019. The show follows the life and career of “The Queen of Rock n’ Roll,” Tina Turner, through the late 1980s. Being a jukebox musical, the show features many of her hit songs and the songs she covered over the many years of her career. 
Playing the title role on a Broadway tour is always a huge task, but when the character is also a legendary musical artist, it becomes even more challenging. Luckily, Zurin Villanueva filled those shoes phenomenally. She stuns as Tina Turner, stealing the show in every scene she is in and effectively transforming throughout the decades the musical covers. And that is nothing on her voice, as she sings these songs as if she owns them. Every time it seemed like she wouldn’t be able to impress even more, she did. As for the rest of the performers, there was not a single weak point in the cast. Everyone sounded incredible, danced spectacularly, and gave honest, grounded performances. Ayvah Johnson as young Anna Mae was especially impressive, and she has a bright future ahead of her with those vocal cords. She wows within her first few moments on stage.
The tour version of the show had to scale down on many of the set elements due to the manner of having to move the show across the country and the fact that the theatre sizes would vary and not all could likely fit the full set from the Broadway production. Thus, it was up to the projections, designed by Jeff Sugg, to help take us through the many locations in the story. Not only that, but these stylistic designs also worked to set the mood and aid the emotional journey that Tina was on. There is a particularly stunning moment that works with the lighting design by Bruno Poet towards the end of Act 1 that effectively conveyed the panic, stress, and eventual relief felt by the star in a pivotal moment of her life. 
Nothing marks a time period more clearly than the fashion, and the costumes, designed by Mark Thompson, do just that as we move through several decades of Tina Turner’s life, helping the audience keep track of when things are happening. From the circle skirts of the 50s, to the glitz of disco sequins in the 70s, to finally, the big hair and jean and leather combo of an 80s rocker, the costuming keeps us from getting lost as the story jumps ahead several years or slows down and rests in one. 
“TINA – The Tina Turner Musical” is a show that will dazzle and blow you away, and one that can bring together people of all generations. I have never seen an audience so quick to give a standing ovation—everyone was on their feet before the first bow was complete. With the two encore numbers, by the end it felt like being at a Tina Turner concert, and the crowd was dancing and singing along in one of the biggest expressions of joy I have seen in a theatre. 
Run time: Two hours and 40 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.
The national tour of “TINA – The Tina Turner Musical” runs through November 20, 2022 at the Hippodrome Theatre, 12 N. Eutaw St, Baltimore, MD 21201 and will be playing across the country until September of next year. Tickets can be purchased here for the Baltimore shows, and all other tour dates and ticket links can be found here.
Carolina Tomasi is a recent graduate from the University of Maryland – College Park, where she earned her B.A. in Theatre and Spanish. During her time there, she performed in and worked on many shows, and was also part of two performance groups: the Kreativity Diversity Troupe and 32 Bars. Since graduating, she has been working in the production department at Studio Theatre and is performing in a show with Wildwood Summer Theatre. An avid theatre-goer, lover, and critic, Carolina is always looking for new shows to see. When not seeing or working on a show, she can be found reading at a local coffee shop or going on long walks.
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