Simply the Best: National Theatre stages Broadway’s ‘Tina: The Tina Turner Musical’

After earning 12 Tony Award nominations on Broadway in 2020, the North American tour of “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” arrives at National Theatre from Oct. 4-23.

WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews ‘Tina’ at National Theatre (Part 1)

After earning 12 Tony Award nominations on Broadway in 2020, the North American tour of “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” arrives at National Theatre from Oct. 4-23.

“‘Tina: The Turner Musical’ is coming to D.C. for the very first time,” actress Zurin Villanueva told WTOP. “We need y’all to come out, get on your feet and party-rock with us. … The life of Tina Turner is so grand that we need two people to accurately play her!”

Brooklyn native Villanueva alternates the lead role with Virginia native Naomi Rodgers, who says, “It is a very taxing role … so to have two people able to do this role, giving 100% every single time an audience sees it, it’s amazing and it should be that way.”

They both have big shoes to fill after Virginia native Adrienne Warren won a Tony.

“I’m from Virginia Beach down the street from where Adrienne was in musical theater,” Rodgers said. “My musical theater director from high school knows her personally as well, so the connection is amazing. To know that someone came out of V-A and did that, 757 stand up!”

Written by Pulitzer Prize winner Katori Hall and directed by Phyllida Lloyd, the story follows Turner’s journey to become a 12-time Grammy winner dubbed the Queen of Rock & Roll.

“We touch a little bit on her childhood, then we go into when she started singing at 17 in St. Louis, how she met Ike, singing for him on the weekends, joining his band,” Villanueva said. “We go through their entire relationship with all of the hits they made, then after Ike when she had to completely rebuild her career, how she hustled her way back to the top.”

Expect all of the hits, including “Fool in Love,” “Proud Mary,” “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “We Don’t Need Another Hero” and “Simply the Best,” which Rodgers calls, “The crowd pleaser. I remember the curtains going up to show the band, the bright lights and the big ‘Tina’ sign in back of us, a lady just stood up out of her seat and started clapping!”

The best feedback comes from Turner’s own diehard fans. “In Providence, [Rhode Island], I got two sweet ladies that caught me at the stage door,” Villanueva said. “They said they actually saw her [perform live]. … ‘You did her justice.’ That was the highest compliment.”

WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews ‘Tina’ at National Theatre (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation with both actresses here.

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