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Tina Turner Musical: Simply the Best
Oct 20 – Nov 02, 2022

tina turner

From the moment the curtain lifted off the stage, “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” opened at the National Theater in Washington, DC to screaming fans, and for the next 2 hours and 45 minutes a very diverse audience cheered and sang, and enthusiastically clapped to every song. I also clapped, tapped my feet, and sang to all the Tina Turner hits that fans have come to love over her stellar 50 plus years in show business.

The bio-musical, executive produced by Turner and her husband Erwin Bach for 16.5 million, had its world premiere in April 2018 in London. It has since garnered critical claim, with the performance starting with a camera roll showing her childhood. The introduction film told the story of parental abandonment in Nutbush, Tennessee in the 1940s, with shadows of spirited voiced Anna Mae Bullock’s joyful experiences in church.  

Every song during the performance chronicled her life from southern poverty to along the road to stardom including her husband’s infamous attacks. As Ike Turner brutally slapped her across the face, the violent attacks triggered the audience’s gasp. However, when she finally fought back against Ike’s aggression and all sorts of emotional torments, the theater erupted in applause.

Virginia native Naomi Rogers, in the starring role, captured Turner’s moves with precision in an iconic Turner highlighted blonde wig. Her tone arms swayed, long legs kicked, and shoulders jerked in the shimmering fringes of her costume. Rodgers is incredibly gifted and energetic and was just nothing short of amazing.

However, her voice was no match for the 82-year-old Rock-n-Roll Hall famer, but then who can match Turner’s signature rasping, growling voice? Nevertheless, her voice is powerful and moving and when Rogers sung, she brought the audience to its feet multiple times. Her rendition of ‘Proud Mary’ got the audience out of their seats like they were at a Washington Commanders-Dallas Cowboys football game.

The show’s high energy never waned, right to the finale. Just when it appeared the curtain was ready to descend, the entire stage exploded into an exuberant concert. Multi-colored lights danced across the stage and audience; fireworks blasted on an enormous onstage screen.  As pyrotechnics appeared to fall from the ceiling (it was actually a convincing LED screen), Rogers sauntered down a lit staircase like a superstar singing “Simply the Best.” The finale was by far the greatest performance of the evening.
Note: The last show at The National Theatre is Sunday, Oct 23. Upcoming tour stops include Philadelphia, Atlanta, Baltimore, Memphis, and Chicago.
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