If I were to ask you what you knew about Tina Turner what would you say?
If you’d have asked me yesterday, I’d have said the following: “Simply The Best”, big hair, amazing thighs, and glittery dresses.
Ask me today and I’d tell you the inspiring story of this powerhouse of a woman who, despite the “small town girl becomes a musical legend” story, was doing as so many people do on a daily basis and living through a constant battle. Married to Ike Turner, the creator and driving force of everything that she had become, was behind the scenes a cheating and womanizing man who was infamous for the emotional and physical abuse he caused his wife.
Soul Sister is an amazing Olivier Awards nominated musical production from John Miller which tells the story of Anna Mae Bullock (Turner’s Christian name) who meets Ike Turner back in 1961 when she’s a young and innocent girl of 16. The main focus of the show takes place between the years of Anna meeting Ike and 1976, documenting as she wows Ike and audiences alike with her big voice and big stage personality, adopts her stage name “Tina Turner”, falls in love with and then has a family with Ike, learns of his infidelity and drug taking, watches their marriage fall apart and subsequently loses everything she had worked so hard for.
But like any good woman she comes back fighting. Fast forward to a solo gig in 1985 – bigger hair, shorter dresses, more tassles, brighter red lipstick, more successful… & Ike-less.
My kind of girl.
Its easy to see Soul Sister as an all singing, all dancing, energetic show, because it is. The script in places is extremely witty, you’ll be dancing in your seat (you know, shoulder dancing), and you’ll be singing along like you’re busting out your best version in the shower, but the underlying story of the show is tragic. You see the relationship of the couple begin to turbulently unravel, and as the Turners get more successful, the unhappier Tina becomes. You can’t help but feel deeply sad for Tina who, without the fame and success, is ultimately just a woman who wants Ike to love her in the way she deserves. I’m a serial theatre weeper (I cried my eyes out the last time I was at the Regent Theatre watching Blood Brothers) and Soul Sister was no different. Yes, yes – my names Charl & during the performance of “I Don’t Wanna Fight” I cried, judge ahead.
Jenny Fitzpatrick is absolutely outstanding as Tina. When leaving the show my friend and I both said that we actually felt like we’d just seen Tina Turner in concert. Everything about Jenny’s performance was Tina. The way she moved, her facial expressions, her mannerisms, that stiff legged dancing – she had it all down. I lost count of the number of times I exclaimed “I wanna be able to dance like her!” or “have you seen her thighs!” or “I wish I could move my butt like that!” – you get the picture. I was jealous – I’m all for a dance lesson with Jenny Fitzpatrick so I can get my Tina Turner on. The current moves I’m pulling in front of the mirror are sub standard, and if you’re going to do Tina Turner, you need to do it right – right?
The rest of the cast are incredible, Chris Tummings (Ike) although playing a role that had women in the audience boo-ing and hiss-ing, was amazing – he has a serious set of lungs on him and his one liners had me in hysterics (I love a good F-Bomb!). The Ikettes were fun and cheeky like an old school version of Destiny’s Child, the band sounded phenomenal and the costumes leave me screaming out for sequins tassels, fishnets and a bottle of hairspray so I can backcomb my hair.
After singing her way through such songs as Proud Mary, River Deep, Mountain High and Private Dancer (one of my favourites!) the finale of the show features the best loved Tina Turner songs including Simply the Best (of course!) – we were getting our best Tina booty grinds on much to the dismay of the people around us. I’ll leave you with this….
Soul Sister is at The Regent Theatre until Saturday, July 13. For tickets, call the box office on 0844 871 7627 or book online here.