Tina – The Tina Turner Musical | Adelaide Review

Experience the inspiring life story of Tina Turner, the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, who didn’t just break the rules; she rewrote them. 

I’ve been waiting for the Tina Turner musical to roll into town and, oh boy, it didn’t disappoint!

Review by Carla Caruso

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical has had an unforgettable nine-month run interstate, with more than 300,000 tickets sold. Now it’s continuing its national tour with a season in Adelaide at the Festival Theatre.

Seeing the musical unfold onstage here felt a bit like watching a movie. It was full of class, moving moments, passion, humour and, of course, hit songs that made you want to jump out of your seat and yell along. Think Simply the Best, What’s Love Got to Do with It, Nutbush City Limits (yas!), and Proud Mary.

Performer Ruva Ngwenya is ah-mazing in the role of Tina Turner. (Ruva’s performed in a string of musicals, including We Will Rock You, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and Moulin Rouge! The Musical.)

She fully embodies the spirit of Tina Turner as she moves about the stage, interacts with her cast-mates, and sings her lungs out. You sometimes even forget that she isn’t the real icon – especially when she’s wearing a spiky wig and showing off her pins!

The musical retells Tina Turner’s life story, from rags to riches. And what an incredible celebration of resilience, and triumph over adversity, it is.

The tale kicks off in the Tennessee community of Nutbush, where Tina (born ‘Anna Mae Bullock’) grew up and sometimes picked cotton with her family. (You’ve probably heard that the line dance, associated with the Nutbush song, is a uniquely Australian phenomenon.)

Tina’s mother wasn’t particularly maternal. She fell pregnant with Tina when she’d been planning to leave her abusive husband, so by default, blames Tina. She tells her off for singing too loudly in church and for drawing attention to herself.

In 1950, when Tina’s just 11, her mother does leave, without warning, relocating to St Louis. And Tina’s made to live with her maternal grandmother. Tina only moves back in with her mother when she’s 16, following her grandma’s death.

It’s in St Louis, on the nightclub scene, that Tina, and her pipes, are ‘discovered’ by Ike Turner (played onstage by Giovanni Adams). The pair team up as the musical act, the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, and finally Tina seems to be on the path that she’s destined for.

Except that Ike turns out to be abusive and controlling. Plus, a womaniser and a cocaine addict. (The show’s depiction of domestic violence feels particularly poignant right now.)

After a 16-year-marriage and one son together, Tina finally leaves Ike, mirroring her mother’s path in this way. But Tina still faces many challenges and setbacks ahead, including financial woes, before transitioning from R&B to rock and making one of the greatest comebacks in music history.

At age 44 – in 1984 – Tina secures her first (and only) number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 with What’s Love Got to Do with It.

I found it particularly heartening to see this lived out onstage, being in my mid-forties myself. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a ‘has-been’, as Tina was called. There’s still time to make your dreams come true!

Tina went on to become one of the globe’s bestselling artists of all time, winning 12 Grammy Awards and selling more concert tickets than any other solo performer in music history. She was also inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice.

By the musical’s end, you’ll be on your feet and cheering (then later cranking her tunes on the way home).

The show will capture your heart and inspire you to overcome any obstacles, mountain-high or otherwise.

Tina’s the word!

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical | Adelaide | until 31 May 2024 

** Please note this production is for those aged 14 and up. It contains scenes of domestic violence, sexual abuse, firearms, drug use, coarse language, racial language, strobe lighting, loud music, theatrical haze, and the simulated smoking of cigarettes. **

Review by Carla Caruso

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For more information, please visit the Adelaide Festival Centre website

All photos supplied by Adelaide Festival Centre. 

At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.

As per all our Play & Go reviews, this is not a sponsored post and our review is done completely independently. 


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