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Everything you need to know about 'Tina: The Tina Turner Musical' on Broadway

Here's all you need to know about Broadway's bio-musical, which puts the legendary Tina Turner back in the spotlight.

Tom Millward
Tom Millward

Ever since Tina: The Tina Turner Musical took to the stage for its world premiere in London in March 2018, Broadway fans enviously looked on, wondering when Tina Turner's story would cross the pond, and they were finally satisfied. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, the woman at the helm of the global phenomenon Mamma Mia!, and featuring a book by Katori Hall, the Pulitzer Prize-winning mastermind behind The Hot Wing KingTina began previews at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on October 12, 2019 ahead of an official opening on November 7, and she's still rocking and rolling on Broadway.

Find out more about Tina: The Tina Turner Musical on Broadway here.

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What's the story of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical?

Tina follows the journey of Anna Mae Bullock from humble beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee, in the 1940s to her rise as a global megastar by the name of Tina Turner, performing in front of 180,000 screaming fans at a concert in Brazil in 1988. Along the rocky road, we experience her broken childhood home; her fraught relationship with her mother, Zelma; being discovered in St. Louis by Ike Turner; and the subsequent creation of The Ike & Tina Turner Revue.

The musical does not shy away from the well-documented domestic abuse Tina suffered at the hands of Ike, and the show rejoices in Tina's emancipation by the end of Act I. The second half concentrates on her struggle to establish herself as a solo artist without a penny to her name. She meets her dream man, Erwin Bach, in Europe and, in the face of racism and ageism, and with the help of a young Australian manager/producer by the name of Roger Davies, Tina defies the odds to create a new sound that sets the world alight with a disco inferno.

Turner herself was a creative consultant on the story, weighing in on everything from her signature dance moves to the depictions of herself and all the other characters, so this iteration of the Queen of Rock and Roll's story is Tina-approved.

When did Tina: The Tina Turner Musical premiere?

Tina first premiered at the Aldwych Theatre in London's West End in on March 21, 2018, earning three Olivier Award nominations including Best Musical. Tina then transferred to Broadway in 2019 with its star, Adrienne Warren, in tow, beginning performances on October 12 and opening on November 7.

Who wrote Tina: The Tina Turner Musical?

Katori Hall wrote the book for Tina, along with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins. The music and lyrics, of course, are all from Tina Turner's songbook!

What theatre in New York is Tina: The Tina Turner Musical playing at?

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical is at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

What is the running time of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical?

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical is 2 hours and 45 minutes long, including one intermission.

Who was in the original cast of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical on Broadway

Reprising her Olivier-nominated from the London world premiere in the titular role was Adrienne Warren. This was truly a career-defining turn by the young stage favorite, who previously made her Broadway debut in 2012 in Bring It On The Musical and earned her first Tony Award nomination in 2016 for Shuffle Along. In 2021, Warren won her first Tony Award, for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, for her performance as Tina Turner. She was supported by an all-dancing and all-singing ensemble cast, including Daniel J. Watts as Ike Turner, Dawnn Lewis as Zelma, and Myra Lucretia Taylor as Gran Georgeanna.

After Warren left the cast in October 2021, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, who succeeded Warren as Tina in the West End and later performed as Tina on Broadway at certain performances, stepped into the role full-time.

What are the songs in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical?

The cast recording of Tina contains 24 songs written by Turner and her collaborators like Sly Stone, Phil Spector, and John Fogerty. You'll hear all her biggest hits like "Proud Mary," "River Deep Mountain High," "Simply the Best," and "What's Love Got To Do With It?" Here are all the songs featured in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, with the songwriters of each listed in parentheses. It takes a village for such an iconic songbook to come together!

Act I

  • "Nutbush City Limits" (Tina Turner) - Richard, Young Tina and Company
  • "Don't Turn Around" (Albert Hammond, Diane Warren) - Tina, Gran Georgeanna and Company
  • "Shake a Tail Feather" (Otha Hayes, Verlie Rice, Andre Williams) - Alline, Tina, Ikettes and Company
  • "The Hunter" (Booker T. Jones, C. Wells, Al Jackson, Jr., Donald Dunn, Steve Cropper) - Ike and Ronnie
  • "Matchbox" (Ike Turner) - Ike, Tina and Company
  • "It's Gonna Work Out Fine" (Rose Marie McCoy, Sylvia McKinney) - Zelma, Ike, Tina, Alline, Ikettes and Company
  • "A Fool in Love" (I. Turner) - Tina and Ikettes
  • "Let's Stay Together" (Al Green, Willie Mitchell, Jackson) - Raymond and Tina
  • "Better Be Good to Me" (Nicky Chinn, Mike Chapman, Holly Knight) - Tina and Company
  • "I Want to Take You Higher" (Sly Stone) - Tina, Alline and Ikettes
  • "River Deep Mountain High" (Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich) - Tina and Company
  • "Be Tender with Me Baby" (Hammond, Knight) - Ike, Tina, Alline, Ikettes, Ronnie and Richard
  • "Proud Mary" (John Fogerty) - Tina, Ike, Alline and Ikettes
  • "I Don't Wanna Fight" (Lulu, Billy Lawrie, Steve DuBerry) - Tina and Company

Act II

  • "Private Dancer" (Mark Knopfler) - Tina
  • "Disco Inferno" (Leroy Green, Ron Kersey) - Tina and Company
  • "Open Arms" (Martin Brammer, Colette van Sertima, Ben Barson) - Rhonda, Tina and Company
  • "I Can't Stand the Rain" (Ann Peebles, Don Bryant, Bernard Miller) - Tina, Ike and Company
  • "Tonight" (David Bowie, Iggy Pop) - Young Tina, Gran Georgeanna, Tina and Roger
  • "What's Love Got to Do with It?" (Terry Britten, Graham Lyle) - Tina, Ikettes, Ronnie and Raymond
  • "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" (Britten, Lyle) - Tina and Company
  • "The Best" (Chapman, Knight) - Tina and Company
  • "Nutbush City Limits (Reprise)" (T. Turner) - Company
  • "Proud Mary (Reprise)" (Fogerty) - Company

What did the reviews of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical on Broadway say?

The review of Tina for New York Theatre Guide reads, "Of course the audience can be found dancing and swaying in the aisles during the now inevitable curtain call encores ... Yet in the case of Tina ... there's a strong dramatic spine that makes it feel particularly earned and respected, and a necessary release for the audience, too." 

The New York Times review reads, "Whenever you begin to despair of its story, "Tina" (and, with it, Lloyd's sense of buoyancy) roars back in purely non-narrative ways. Suddenly, Bruno Poet's lights bump way up. Mark Thompson's costume designs provide the icons we want: the gold shimmy dress with tiers of fringe, the Alaia red leather mini zipped up the front. And Anthony van Laast's choreography, perhaps too slick in the early scenes, when Tina and the (terrific) Ikettes would not have been so smooth, turns deliciously satisfying in the later ones, when the star owns her body at last."

What awards has Tina: The Tina Turner Musical won?

The London premiere production was nominated for three Olivier Awards and received one win: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith won for his performance as Ike Turner. The Broadway production received 12 2020 Tony Award nominations, and Adrienne Warren won Best Actress for playing Tina. Her performance also earned her a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award, and the musical also won a Drama Desk Award for hair and wig design and Outer Critics Circle Awards for outstanding new musical, costume design, choreography, and the performance of Daniel J. Watts as Ike Turner.

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Why should I see Tina: The Tina Turner Musical on Broadway?

Due to the graphic depiction of domestic violence, along with some strong language, Tina is recommended for those aged 16+. Even if you aren't an ardent fan of the Queen of Rock and Roll, Tina Turner's story makes for a compelling trip to the theatre and may be the perfect opportunity to introduce a friend or a partner to the world of Broadway. The show is also a great motivator and inspiration for young women, as Tina's journey sees her defying numerous odds and detractors to achieve iconic status.

Dramatic tension, especially in the first half of Tina, is palpable and, even if you are already fully aware of the events of her life, authentically shocking. Yes, these events have been well-documented, recently in Tina's 2018 autobiography My Love Story as well as the 1993 biopic What's Love Got to Do With It?, but this simply doesn't compare to the raw emotion evoked by seeing them play out live on stage. The second half of the bio-musical picks up where the Angela Bassett-led film left off, shedding more light on life after Ike.

The endurance and charisma required to pull off this role call for a performer who can take it into overdrive and beyond, so you're bound to see a powerhouse deliver Turner's work no matter who is in the role. With the inevitable jukebox musical encore finale worth the price of admission alone, writer Katori Hall has beautifully woven Tina's wealth of hits into the story in a perfect balance of presentation and narrative progression. 

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How do I get tickets to Tina: The Tina Turner Musical on Broadway?

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical tickets are currently not available on New York Theatre Guide. Find out more about Tina on Broadway here.

(Photos by Manuel Harlan)

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