Posts Tagged ‘Emi Wokoma’

This show ‘inspired by the music, life and times of Ike & Tina Turner’ starts when Anna Mae Bullock auditions for Ike Wister Turner Jr in St. Louis in 1956 and ends at Tina Turner’s career re-launch 27 years later. It’s a fascinating story, though the telling of it is a bit clunky; it could do with a better book. Musically (well, for me anyway) the second half is a lot better than the first, which ends where I came in with River Deep, Mountain High.

Laura Hopkins design relies almost totally on projections. Though they are often highly effective, and provide the show with its pace, they sometimes change so fast that they are distracting, particularly when they contain words which aren’t there long enough for you to read them!

The band is superb, though the volume (and the bass in particular) meant my seat was vibrating for much of the time (!). Jason Pennycooke’s choreography recreates Tina’s stage style which is a bizarre combination of woman-with-attitude and quirky fun with a somewhat surreal butchness that made me smile. It wouldn’t have been out-of-place at a London 2012 ceremony.

I hadn’t bought in to the ‘star is born’ hype by the interval, but I left hugely impressed by Emi Wokoma, who shone in the second half as Tina herself broke free of her abusive husband and musical partner. In all this hype, the contribution of Chris Tummings as Ike has been lost, which is sad as this is an excellent characterisation of this complex, deeply unsympathetic man.

It ends, like most shows in this genre, as a concert with the audience on its feet joining in, and this is where it really takes off – when the music, superbly recreated, speaks for itself. By now I was reliving an evening more than 20 years ago at Wembley Arena when the woman herself commanded the stage and engaged with her audience like few really do.

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