The national tour of Broadway’s “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical” made its California debut this week, arriving as a poignant, posthumous celebration following the rock music icon’s death last month.
“Tina” opened in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre on Wednesday, June 14, steps away from her Hollywood Walk of Fame star and where she recorded for Capitol Records. It plays there until July 9, followed by two weeks at Segerstrom Center the Arts in Costa Mesa and stops in San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose later this summer.
“We have always wanted to put audiences in the room with her and it’s obviously going to have even more of a special meaning now that she is gone from us physically,” says Katori Hall, co-writer of the musical.
“But her energy, her spirit, obviously has been interwoven into our creative processes. And I pray that we’ll always be able to give every audience member a little piece of Tina when they come to the show.”
Turner, who survived a horrifying marriage to triumph in middle age with such hits as “What’s Love Got to Do With It” and “Better Be Good To Me,” died last month in Küsnacht near Zurich. She was 83.
After California, the tour continues its multi-year national journey, visiting 37 more cities across North America next season. It has been touring regularly since fall 2022. There are also productions running on London’s West End, as well as in Sydney, Australia, and Stuttgart, Germany.
The musical traces the highs and lows of the two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, including her hellish marriage scarred by domestic violence and the rise as a beloved solo artist with songs like “Private Dancer,” ″River Deep, Mountain High,” “The Best” and “Proud Mary.”
“Tina” captured 12 Tony nominations, including an eventual best actress winning trophy for Adrienne Warren in the title role. Hall wrote the book with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins.
Two actors share the role of Turner on the road — Naomi Rodgers and Zurin Villanueva, each playing four of the eight performances a week. Also co-starring are Roderick Lawrence, Roz White, Carla R. Stewart and Lael Van Keuren.
Tour organizers realized by seeing Warren as Turner on Broadway that not just one actor could play the demanding role on the road, says Hall.
“We saw how hard it is on the body — It’s the physicality, it’s the singing, but it’s also just the emotional heft every night one has to put upon their shoulders and go through, two hours plus of the life of Tina Turner.”
Hall recalls finding out that Turner had died when she woke up with messages flooding her phone. Her mind went back to the time when Turner attended “Tina” on Broadway.
“When she walked through the door, to see people get on their feet and give her a standing ovation, I was so grateful that she was able to feel that energy and feel that love on the American side of the pond before she passed,” says Hall.
“I think it was just a beautiful gift that we were able to give her in that moment and to be in the room breathing with her and witnessing that love just showering down from the balcony.”