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‘Tina: The Tina Turner Musical’ takes the Boston stage

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
‘Tina: The Tina Turner Musical’  takes the Boston stage
Naomi Rodgers as “Tina Turner” in the North American touring production of “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.” PHOTO: MATTHEW MURPHY FOR MURPHYMADE

Tina Turner’s bold vocals and tumultuous life story take the stage in “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical,” running at the Citizens Bank Opera House Sept. 20 through Oct. 2, presented by Broadway in Boston. The uplifting comeback story is saturated with powerful performances of Turner’s greatest hits.

Naomi Rodgers and Zurin Villanueva share the demanding role of Turner, which requires the actors to be on stage and belting it out almost the entire show. Each will perform four shows a week as the powerhouse star.

Zurin Villanueva as “Tina Turner” and the cast of the North American touring production
of “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.” PHOTO: EVAN ZIMMERMAN FOR MURPHYMADE

Growing up, Rodgers says, she would sing “Proud Mary” and “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” with her mom at karaoke nights. Little did she know this was practice for a much larger stage.

“It is important to tell the stories of talented women of color, because why not give them the platform, and why not give them the power and their flowers before they go?” says Rodgers. “So many of our legends are getting older. Their stories deserve to be told.”

Turner’s turbulent relationship with the abusive Ike Turner is as well known as the singer’s hits. In the first half of the musical, the audience sees how Turner was discovered as Anna Mae Bullock and turned into a performer under Ike’s thumb. In the second half, when Turner breaks free of the relationship, she’s able to become her own woman personally and professionally.

Rodgers says she was surprised to learn how purposeful Turner became with her life after leaving Ike. “Everything that she says in the second half is with intention. Nothing that she says is pointless, everything she says has power,” she says.

The show follows the major events of Turner’s life, but its centerpiece is the musical performances. Rodgers says she’s not trying to mimic the famous star, but the channel the emotions she believes Turner would have been feeling at that point in her life. She watched old videos of Turner’s performances and read her autobiography to gain a better understanding of her life.

Rodgers hopes audiences have a joyful experience at the musical, rocking out to the songs they know and love. (Her personal favorite is “Better Be Good to Me.”) But she also hopes they’re inspired by what Turner worked through to live her dream.

“I hope the audience takes away that you can overcome anything and everything,” says Rodgers. “You don’t need anyone to tell you what to do and who you are.”

Broadway in Boston, Citizens Bank Opera House, musical, theater, Tina Turner