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THEATRE REVIEW: FTN reviews Soul Sister at the Grand Opera House, Belfast

May 1st, 2013 by Big Phil Comments

Soul Sister
Grand Opera House Belfast
Monday 29th April until Saturday 4th May
Get tickets here

Direct from its smash hit West End season, Soul Sister, the new musical inspired by the life and times of Ike and Tina Turner, explodes on to the stage at the Grand Opera House Belfast!
Hailed as ‘sensational’ (Daily Telegraph), critics and audiences alike are raving about the show with ‘A back catalogue to die for’ (Evening Standard).
This slick new musical (The Times) features all the classic Tina Turner hits, including What’s love got to do with it, Proud Mary, Private Dancer, River Deep Mountain High and of course Simply the Best plus many more…
Soul Sister, a musical journey of the lives of Ike and Tina Turner, is not an autobiography. Nor is it your standard type of musical with the cast dancing on stage to lyrics of double meaning. This is quite simply “something else.”
The whole feel of the story, from when Tina first met Ike, to her sell-out concert of 1985, is like a scrap book of pictures set to a live soundtrack of some of the most memorable and influ-entional songs by this recording duo.
The cast, headlined by Emi Wokoma as Tina Turner and Chris Tummings as Ike Turner, do a wonderful rendition of both their real life counterparts and of the music acts of the period.

Emi’s performance of Tina Turner is mesmerising; from the arched back to the leg-strutting that fans will instantly recognise, and let’s not forget the voice. Tina Turner has a unique sound backed by power and I am pleased to say that Emi has an equally powerfully sounding voice that at times you really do believe you ware watching the “real” Tina Turner on stage. This is especially the case during the more dramatic scenes when her character is physically attacked; scenes which are guaranteed to leave any audience silenced in both respect and admiration.

This is a story of two players in that it is as much as it is Tina Turner’s story, it is also the story of Ike Turner, played brilliantly by Chris Tummings. His guitar playing and ease of charm brings to life the character so many have heard about. With his powerful presence on the stage, and his ever changing appearance, you can’t help but praise the character of Ike, for in this piece he has charm and music ability matched only to his debauchery and cruelty.

The sets and backdrops are inspirational with a look akin to a comic book. The backdrop informs the audience of the ever-changing times the characters live in, from screens of JFK and endless mile markers from touring on the road, to screaming arenas and fans applauding. The costume changes come as fast as the rhythms from the live band, all of whom, including the principal cast, play their own instruments.

This is a wonderful musical piece with great songs backed by great performances. Whilst not as in-depth or perhaps as ‘true’ as the autobiographies, documentaries or films that have been released over the years, Soul Sister doesn’t set out to complete with them; it is more of an addition.

With great music (sadly though, the play lacks one or two of the most recognisable songs Ike and Tina recorded), but this is only a blip on an otherwise well balanced and thought out selection. Yes there is violence, and frequent harsh language, but its backed by such amazing musical performances that in the end, that’s all the audience wants to think about; the musical talent of Ike and Tina Turner, and this show delivers on all levels.

4 out of 5 Nerds

A special thanks to the Grand Opera House for their invitation and hospitality to this screening.

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I arrived on Earth in 1977 and have virtually devoted my entire existence to cult films, television programmes and cartoons. I am a very big fan of Star Wars and Star Trek; I may struggle with foreign languages but I can order live Gagh in Klingon! I’m the Nerd that knows the trivia but I’m hopeless at sport!