‘Tina’ Is Unflinching Musical Portrait of Entertainment Icon

May 2, 2024

Tina – Courtesy of Matthew Murphy. Used with permission.

Though thoroughly entertaining, “Tina,” The Tina Turner Musical,” was also one of the most difficult to watch at times. Featuring the music of Tina Turner and portraying her life from her humble origins Nutbush, Tennessee, to her transformation into a rock and roll superstar, the national tour production, presented by Broadway in Indianapolis, opened Tuesday at the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre in downtown Indy.

Tina – Courtesy of Matthew Murphy. Used with permission.

Directed by Phylllida Loyd with a book by Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar, and Kees Prins, the musical had its world premiere on April 17, 2018, at the Aldwych Theatre in London, The Broadway production opened on November 7, 2019.

During Act 1, there are scenes from her childhood as Anna May Bullock during which she was abandoned by her mother, contrasting with those when she was raised by her loving grandmother, Gran Georgeanna. Later there were raw scenes of the brutal depictions of the physical and verbal abuse she suffered for sixteen years at the hand of Ike Turner, with whom she performed in their act, “Ike and Tina Revue.” Eventually, however, she gets her comeuppance when she decides she has had enough and lets him have a taste of his own medicine before leaving him for good.  Act 2 depicts her post-Ike career during which initially she struggles to establish herself as a solo career, performing in Las Vegas bars, prior to meeting Australian Roger Davis who becomes her manager and goes on to help her reach the heights as a rock and roll goddess.

Tina – Courtesy of Matthew Murphy. Used with permission.

Other than a few covers, the show includes many of Tina Turner’s hit, including “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome),”  “Private Dancer,” and “Proud Mary.””  Led by music director Dani Lee Butch, the six-piece band was simply “The Bes.” — especially during the encore when they appeared on stage to play “Nutbush City Limits” and “Proud Mary”. An added attraction in the show were the high energy, frenetic production numbers, which saw many of Tina’s signature moves and period 60s, 70s I 80’s fashions, reflecting her own individual style in the costumes. Much of the lighting throughout had a rock concert flavor.

As far as the leads —astounding for her spot-on impression of the rock and roll Queen herself, including her incredible stamina, energy as a dancer and powerful vocals and range, Ari Groover turned in a spectacular performance. Equally potent, was Deon Reliford-Lee as volatile Ike. He was absolutely terrifying in scenes in which Ike beats Tina during some of the realistic staged violence I have ever seen on any stage— so much so that audience cheered when Tina finally fights back and humiliates him.

As I stated earlier, the musical was both disturbing yet uplifting but, in the end, as intended, the piece is inspiring in its story of an artist and survivor who overcomes great adversity and despite the odds lives out her dreams.at

“Tina” continues through Sunday, May 4. Tickets are available at broadway.indianapolis.com.






photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and Examiner.com, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

On the Aisle Team

  • Creation, content, and publishing: Tom Alvarez
  • Graphic design:- Casey Ross
  • Web development: Clay Mabbitt

Leave a comment

* required field