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REVIEW: Rock ‘n’ Roll with Tina – The Tina Turner Musical (Orpheum/HTT) 

A promotional photo for Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, playing through March 12 at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN.

As rockstar biographies go, Tina Turner’s just about has it all – great heights, great lows, turning points, struggles, and victories. And so it is in Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, now playing at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. The show, and its numerous hit songs, has a simple central conceit: bringing audiences to their feet in celebration of the legendary singer Tina Turner. Tina tells the true story of Tina Turner, aka Anne Mae Bullock, from her humble beginnings in Tennessee to stardom as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll”. With performances by a cast of powerhouse singers, this show is sure to get you grooving in your seat. 

As with any jukebox musical, patrons familiar with the work of the featured artist will get more out than those who are not. However, this does not mean that those unfamiliar with Tina Turner’s music will find the show unenjoyable. I myself only knew three songs by Tina Turner (all three of which are featured in the show) before curtain, but I still found the show very enjoyable and worthwhile. Both Tina Turner die-hards and novices alike are bound to enjoy this production. 

Zurin Villanuev (center) performing “Higher” as Tina Turner. This demanding role asks so much of performers that the national tour is double-cast. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

The demanding titular character of Tina is double-cast, with alternating performers on different nights. The night I attended, the role was being played by Parris Lewis – and what a rockstar and true triple threat she is, gracing the stage with powerful acting, intense dancing, and her amazing vocal prowess. Another highlight amongst the cast of talented performers is young Ayvah Johnson, who plays Young Anna-Mae. This small girl can sing, and everyone knows it.  Luckily, it seems her role is not double cast, so you are likely to see her when you attend. 

Ayvah Johnson (right) as Young Annae Mae. by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

To back up such powerful singing one needs a killer band, and that is exactly what this musical has. While you cannot see the band for most of the production, there are moments throughout the show where you get to see them in action. Keep an eye out, too, for the local performers, whose names are listed in the Playbill. 

Tina Turner’s story is one of heartbreak and tragedy. As a result, there is a trigger warning for this show as it deals with themes of child abuse and spousal abuse. Violence happens at many points throughout the performance, so please take care of yourself and others as you prepare to witness Tina’s life. If you are going through similar situations in your home, you can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. 

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical  plays at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis through March 12th. Ticket are priced $40 – $139, with Student/Educator Rush available for all performances. 

Boo Segersin