Above – Ruva Ngwenya & Ikettes. Cover – Ruva Ngwenya and Nadia Komazec. Photos – Daniel Boud.

Music is THE universal voice. How can I be so sure? Witnessed this on Friday night, QPAC Lyric Theatre, with the full-capacity crowd, ready to absorb all this show has to offer.

THUMP THUMP Church house (hallelujah and amen to that) heralds the overture of Tina's life, introducing Anna Mae Bullock (Samara Wheeler, watch this space, a bright rising star) and the family she was born into. Music is holding Tina's hand, with Gran Georgeanna (take a bow Deni Gordon) offering sage advice, "... don't turn around, just walk away ..." capturing the audience with the first round of overwhelming emotion and moistening our eyeballs for the ensuing magic. 

Sliding stages, awesome lighting and set design take us to the next level where 'wild child' Anna becomes Tina (Ruva NgwenyaLEGEND) joining Ike Turner (Giovanni Adams, we loved hating you) and the band, getting ready for the next thrilling and chilling round. The hairs on my arms stand up and the audience explodes. Choreography creating a powerhouse of emotion and a walk-through fashion feast, the fame starts with the Ike and Tina Revue. Ten years on and Phil Spectre dubs Tina "James Brown in a skirt" – audience laughs at his increasing weirdness, such joy. So many moments throughout this show, comedy and tragedy going hand in hand, taking us on a musical trip through Tina's life, brought to light by this dynamic cast, all excruciatingly fabulous in their own performance; accolades to everyone too diverse to name individually.

'River Deep Mountain High', a psychedelic feast of sound, lighting, costume and choreography: band enters and wow – what will be next? 

After sixteen years of abuse, Tina's mom still gives her grief. 'Proud Mary' and Tina becomes a force to reckon with, shaking her 'booty', the fringes on her frock creating their own electrical current! Tina hits rock bottom, "I don't want to fight no more ... time for letting go" and the audience is carried away in a powerful round of unbridled emotion. After the interval (we ALL needed an interval to recombobulate) the second stage of the 'journey' commences. The audience is ready for anything. 

'Private Dancer' era and Tina tells her story, "... singing at night and cleaning toilets all day ..." My eyes are moist again and I take a deep breath. What this woman had to endure. The audience responding to every nuance, of which there are so many. 'Disco Inferno' and we are all singing "burn baby burn" with choreography on steroids and costume design bringing it home. Rhonda Graam (we love you Nadia Komazec) being there, helping Tina: "I might be jumping at the sun but I've got long legs". And you sure know how to use them.

'I Can't Stand the Rain' London metamorphosis, "... music ain't got no colour ..." and the sliding stage, melding moments of set, scene and song. 'What's Love Got to Do with It' and a kissy moment allowing us to breathe.

'Thunderdome', 'We Don't Need Another Hero' (but obviously WE do) with conductor and full band appearing, Tina (Ruva, by now you officially own the audience) encouraging audience participation and we were all upstanding, singing and swaying with the electrical vibe.  'Simply the Best' and EVERYONE – young, old and getting there – totally involved with the complete performance.

There are so many poignant scenes, so many stories along the way, so many loves and losses in Tina's life, to bring her to the musical genius and legend she became. A performance on such a grand scale as this show (a pale description for the extravaganza experienced) takes a village, basically, of every talented person on this planet. Gushy? Too much – I don't think so. When I looked around to see the massive audience, upstanding, singing and swaying, a mile of smiles joined together by this musical experience, I felt part of life. My companion, on exiting the Lyric Theatre complex, remarked, "I am still buzzing, like an electric current is still running through my body."  Job done!

Event details

TEG Dainty and Stage Entertainment present
Tina – The Tina Turner Musical
by Katori Hall with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins

Director Phyllida Lloyd

Venue: QPAC Lyric Theatre | QLD
Dates: 29 June – 23 August 2024
Tickets: $229 – $69
Bookings: www.qpac.com.au

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