Tina Turner had the crowd Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on their feet Thursday night, in more ways than one.
The music icon and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, 79, stopped by opening night of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, the electrifying and heart-stopping new stage show based on her life — surprising the audience with an emotional post-show speech.
She was joined on stage by other members of the musical’s creative team and its hard-working cast.
Front and center? Tony-nominated actress Adrienne Warren, who portrays Turner in the acclaimed show.
“This musical is my life but it’s like poison that turned to medicine,” said Turner, dressed in a long-sleeve gold glittery gown. “I can never be as happy as I am now.”
Cheering Turner on from the audience was a star-studded crowd that included Turner superfans Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, as well as Tiffany Haddish, Spike Lee, Whoopi Goldberg, Sunny Hostin, Tituss Burgess, Martha Stewart, Christine Baranski, Deborah Cox, Anna Wintour, Cush Jumbo, Ariana DeBose, Chita Rivera, and Bernadette Peters.
Prior to getting on stage, Turner and Winfrey walked the red carpet arm-in-arm at the theater, waving at fans gathered to watch.
After the show, she posed for pictures with the cast and attended the opening night after-party, where she shared a sweet laugh with Warren.
Turner has long supported Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, showing up to cheer the show on both back in April 2018 (when it opened in London’s West End) and this past March (for the premiere of the show’s German production in Hamburg).
The musical traces every turbulent moment of Turner’s 50-year singing career.
Opening beside a lynching tree in the poverty-stricken town of Nutbush, Tennessee, the show follows Turner’s life as she moves to St. Louis and enters into a torrid, abusive relationship with ex-husband Ike before ultimately finding the strength to set out on her own and claim global superstardom as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Turner’s marriage to German music executive Erwin Bach, 63 — who was also at the NYC premiere — is covered in the show too, as is her relationship with her two sons: Ronnie, 59, and Raymond Craig, the latter who died at the age of 60 by suicide in 2018.
“I’ve been blessed with a wonderful career,” she writes in the program notes. “After more than 50 years of performing I don’t need a musical, I don’t need another show. But I get so many cards and letters, I still can’t believe how people feel about me on stage and the legacy they say I left.”
“People tell me I gave them hope,” Turner continued. “It meant so much to people I feel I have to pass it on, and I hope this show serves what the people need, as a reminder of my work.”
Phyllida Lloyd directs the musical, with Katori Hall writing its book alongside Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins.
Music supervision, additional music and arrangements come from Nicholas Skilbeck, while Anthony van Laast provides choreography.
A sea of Turner’s hits score her life story, like “Nutbush City Limits,” “Proud Mary,” “River Deep, Mountain High,” “Private Dancer,” and her No. 1, Grammy-winning smash hit, “What’s Love Got to Do with It.”
Fittingly, the show concludes with Tina strutting onto the stage in front of 180,000 fans in Rio De Janeiro to belt out “The Best.” Warren’s Turner is joined at this climactic moment by a full rock band and the performance turns into a mini Tina Turner gig — full of whooping, wild dancing and stunning vocals.
Warren, 32, played Turner when it debuted in the West End, and transfers with the production to Broadway.
Other stars include Daniel J. Watts, Dawnn Lewis, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, and Myra Lucretia Taylor, plus Steven Booth, Nick Rashad Burroughs, Gerald Caesar, Holli’ Conway, Kayla Davion, Leandra Ellis-Gaston, Charlie Franklin, Judith Franklin, Matthew Griffin, Sheldon Henry, David Jennings, Ross Lekites, Robert Lenzi, Gloria Manning, Rob Marnell, Mehret Marsh, Jhardon DiShon Milton, Destinee Rea, Mars Rucker, Jessica Rush, Justin Schuman, Alyssa Shorte, Carla Stewart, Jayden Theophile, Skye Dakota Turner, Antonio Watson and Katie Webber.
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical is now playing on Broadway.