The Tina Turner Musical Is Finally Here, and We’re Not Worthy
In ‘Tina,’ playwright Katori Hall shows the legend’s complex reality and legacy
The theater has an inclusivity problem, especially people of color. Not only in theatergoers, but also in casts and creative teams. Reports from the Broadway League say 75% of patrons are White. The Asian American Performers Action Coalition states that in the 2016–2017 season both on and off Broadway, Black playwrights were represented at 4.1%.
Thanks to the diligent work of trailblazers like Olivier Award-winning playwright Katori Hall, that’s slowly starting to change.
Hall is best known for her plays The Mountaintop and Hurt Village, but she’s stepped into new territory with Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. Tina navigates the life of this beloved singer and survivor with hits like “Proud Mary” and “Private Dancer.” On the heels of opening night, Hall spoke to ZORA about her conversations with Turner, representation in theater, and her TV show P-Valley, which will premiere on Starz next year.
ZORA: What was your entry point to Tina Turner’s world?
Katori Hall: The first point is the fact that I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and she grew up in Nutbush. I didn’t have her exact life experiences, but I was familiar with her world. It felt like she was a mother or auntie that I was writing about.
Tali Pelman, the lead producer, produced The Mountaintop. She’d approached Tina about creating a musical. Tina was apprehensive because she wanted to be honest about her struggles and thought musicals wouldn’t allow that, then Tali told her about me. If you know my work, it’s very honest and authentic. Tali convinced me that I’d be able to do what I’d like to do because Tina wanted a transparent retelling of her traumatic story.
When did you get involved in the musical, and how did you find the process of bringing a musical to Broadway compared to ‘The Mountaintop?’
I got involved around October 2015 and was flown out to Switzerland to meet Tina. I interviewed her old manager Roger Davies, her…