Savoy, London, August
23-September 29, then touring until March 16
Authors: John Miller, Pete Brooks
Directors: Pete Brooks, Bob Eaton
Producers: Bill Kenwright, John Miller
Cast: Emi Wokoma, Chris Tummings, Msimisi Dlamini, Rochelle Neil, Hannah Fairclough,
Aisha Jawando, Sean Green
The term “a star is born” is so overused it’s almost become worthless, but it’s
exactly what happened last Thursday night at the Savoy Theatre and it was a
privilege to be there.
Forget the stamina needed to play King Lear; that’s a walk in the park compared
to what Emi Wokoma needs to do eight times a week as she plays Tina Turner from the
age of 16, through all the trials and tribulations of her marriage into her
middle age where she finishes the evening with a twenty minute mega-mix of Turner
hits (Steamy Windows, Addicted to Love, Simply The Best, We Don’t Need another
hero, I can’t stand the Rain and What’s Love got to do with it) that
justifiably sends the audience roaring to their feet with approval.
By that time we’ve already enjoyed Wokoma singing and shimmying through the
string of fabulous songs, including River Deep Mountain High, Respect and Honky
Tonk Woman, that punctuated our heroine’s life and not only that, she makes a
pretty good stab at playing the emotional roller-coaster of it all too.
It’s an archetypal story: innocent singer is made into a star then abused by
volatile husband/manager before clawing her way to a comeback. We’ve seen it
on stage or film in everything from Dream Girls to the lives of performers like
Doris Day, Cher and Tammy Winette.. etc. But hey – it’s all true, so what
can you do? You can’t invent a life to make things more original. I actually
think this team did a pretty god job of assembling all the clichés into an
engaging script, which our leading lady and Chris Tummings as Ike Turner play
with great conviction.
The show has the best use of projected scenery that I’ve ever seen,
complimenting the story with projections that sometimes take your breath away
as giant images of props, scrap books and newspapers come alive before your
As befitting a west end tribute to a pop legend, all the musicianship is first
class. I thoroughly recommend this show and especially Emi Wokoma’s
extraordinary performance, which is worth the price of a ticket in itself.
**** (Four Stars) Emi Wokoma gives an amazing performance as Tina Turner in an
engaging dramatisation of her life, peppered with some wonderful music. Go.