The energy was electric Friday evening at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre as Tina: The Tina Turner Musical returned for reopening night — its first show since March 202 before the pandemic. Star Adrienne Warren, who recently won a Tony Award for her work, is back for a limited engagement until Oct. 31. Warren received multiple, lengthy standing ovations after several numbers, including “River Deep, Mountain High.”
Tony nominee and Pulitzer Prize winner Katori Hall, one of the playwright behind Tina, took to the stage before the show began to commemorate the moment with an impactful speech on everything that has gone down since the show was last seen.
“March 12, 2020 was a day that I’ll never forget, and I know a lot of our Broadway family will never forget, because that was the day we went dark,” she said. “It was an intermission that seemed like it was going to be endless. It was an intermission that we did not know was coming. This virus swooped into our lives and demanded that we pause. It was already dark, and yet it got darker.”
Hall, also the creator of Starz’s P-Valley talked about the racial reckoning of the summer and its impact it had, especially on the people in and behind the show.
“George Floyd’s death shook the world to its core. It shook the Tina family to its score. Our company is predominantly made up of black theater-makers. And we, as a company that is based on inclusion, we were angry. We were frustrated. In that pause, things got even darker. There were a lot of difficult conversations that we had…difficult conversations that the world had…difficult conversations that had been centuries in the making. [And we’re] still talking, right? In that pause, we had to stop playing pretend and we had to start reconstructing our reality. A lot of these people that you’re going to see on this stage tonight, in that pause, in that darkness, a flame grew inside of them, a flame that made them take to the streets that made them raise their voices like fire to the sky.”
She continued, “We are blessed to be in the presence of amazing artists, but also amazing human beings. They demanded that we have a better Broadway and a better world. And I must say, I must say, why wouldn’t they? Because they have been working on a show about a woman that is fire. Theater is a magical art form. It demands that we be in the same room, breathing the same air at the same damn time, living through the same moment together. That’s the world. That’s humanity. Theater is so magical. And no virus can kill that. We are here to experience because we all are survivors.”
The 12-time Tony-nominated show also stars Daniel J. Watts as Ike, Dawnn Lewis as Zelma, Myra Lucretia Taylor as Gran Georgeanna and Jessica Rush as Rhonda.
It also stars Juliet Benn, Steven Booth, Nick Rashad Burroughs, Gerald Caesar, Julius Chase, Ayla Ciccone-Burton, Holli’ Conway, Kayla Davion, Leandra Ellis-Gaston, Charlie Franklin, Judith Franklin, Matthew Griffin, Ari Groover, Sheldon Henry, David Jennings, Ross Lekites, Robert Lenzi, Rob Marnell, Jhardon DiShon Milton, NaTonia Monet, Phierce Phoenix, Justin Schuman, Allysa Shorte, Eric Siegle, Carla Stewart, Skye Dakota Turner, Eric A. Walker Jr. and Katie Webber.
Hall wrote the book with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins. It s is directed by Tony Award nominee Phyllida Lloyd with choreography by Tony Award nominee Anthony van Laast, set and costume designs by Tony Award nominee Mark Thompson, musical supervision, additional music and arrangements by Nicholas Skilbeck, lighting by Tony Award nominee Bruno Poet, sound by Tony Award nominee Nevin Steinberg, projection design by Tony Award nominee Jeff Sugg, orchestrations by Tony Award nominee Ethan Popp, wigs, hair and makeup design by Drama Desk Award winner Campbell Young Associates, music direction by Alvin Hough Jr. and casting by The Telsey Office.
Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, who starred in West End production, takes over for Warren officially on Nov. 2. and can be seen in certain shows now.
Watch footage after Friday night’s reopening show below: