Hitting the right notes

Soul Sister

Malvern Theatres

***
Tina Turner's life may be as passionate and fiery as a storyline in Eastenders or similar soap opera, but it is the music that you ultimately take away from this lively show.
Reliving the timeline from Anna Mae Bullock's first meeting with Ike Turner to her transformation into the Tina Turner of the 1980s, Soul Sister gives you an emotional insightful journey into the singer's life.
From early on, there is a talented live band on stage with backing singers and dancers who bring the Ike and Tina Turner Revue to life.

It's a dynamic first half chartering Tina's early hits and drama, with the added bonus of a video screen highlighting events of the year being portrayed, such as John F Kennedy's death or Rosa Park's arrest. 

It all helps put the timeline and people in perspective, especially with the backdrop of the civil rights movement and hearing how Ike saw his father beaten to death for talking to a white woman.

THICK AND FAST

Moving from Motown tracks to the '70s, nostalgic tunes come thick and fast from A Fool in Love to I Idolise You, Shake a Tail Feather and I'm Blue. But there will be plenty more music as this show contains a total of 24 of Tina's songs.

There's even a clever way of incorporating Phil Spector's voice into the proceedings as Tina records River Deep, Mountain High in a studio.

Meanwhile, the second half focusses heavily on the doomed relationship between Ike and Tina, and although the domestic abuse is an important aspect of her story, the gloom of beatings, drugs, swearing and unfaithfulness slow down the tempo, with some scenes seeming to drag. Songs like I Don't Want to Fight Anymore do however fit perfectly into this backdrop of marital discord.

Impressive Maria Omakinwa, performing the lead role at Malvern, has a powerful voice in her own right and manages to expertly mock Turner's movements and sounds to such an extent that it was easy to become lost in the music.

Chris Tummings, who formerly featured in well-loved Channel 4 sitcom Desmond's, plays grisly husband, Ike. It is to his credit that despite Ike's many, many flaws, his portrayal makes you also understand why it was hard for Nutbush's most famous daughter to leave him.

But to the relief of everyone, she does, and heads towards an uplifting finale of the star in concert performing some of her most loved songs.

Opening with Private Dancer and concluding with The Best, this is not just a warts and all biography but a discography that fans of Tina Turner will want to see. To 20-07-13.
Alison Brinkworth 

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