Tina Turner has a fascinating story behind the music and so a musical based on her life and featuring her best known hits makes for a great basis of a show. Unfortunately Soul Sister doesn’t quite tell the story as well as it could, at times feeling more like a concert rather than musical.
When the story is picked up, particularly during Act 2, the tale is unraveled giving the audience an opportunity to engage with the emotional and personal side of such an icon, allowing them to relate and warm to the character rather than just watch her perform.
Emi Wokoma is a terrific Tina Turner; her passion for music translates extremely well through the character of Tina. Her stage presence is immense and it is difficult to imagine anyone else playing homage to Tina in such an accurate, yet personal, way. When performing in numbers such as Private Dancer and River Deep, Mountain High, she shines like a true star. She is able to grasp the audience with her emotional acting, making them feel for the character on a whole new level, handling the sensitive subject of domestic violence with great success. The show is worth seeing just for her!
The set is simple, little props and barely any scenery. Most of the story is told via a screen in a comic strip sort of style, it does it's job but feels alien in a musical theatre environment.
Even the ‘get up and dance’, sing-a-long during the final scene (and even an encore) made it feel more like a tribute to the work of Tina rather than a musical story like other jukebox musicals Mamma Mia, We Will Rock You and Buddy. In fairness though, I enjoyed myself and so did the rest of the audience so I’m not sure if the tribute is a bad thing – just not what I was expecting.
The show is entertaining, energetic and certainly fun. Any fan of Tina Turner must see this show.
Soul Sister runs at Belgrade Theatre Coventry through Saturday November 3.