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Totally Tina. The Embassy Theatre, Skegness. 20 April 2024.

Tina Turner was voted among the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. No surprise then that an enthusiastic audience awaited Totally Tina this weekend at the Embassy Theatre in Skegness.

I must confess, I have never especially been a fan of Tina Turner but like everyone else who has had any interest in music since the 1960s, I am well aware of her legend and her catalogue of songs from her early years as the partner to Ike Turner, to her global superstardom and becoming Simply the Best. She richly deserves the title, the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and far be it from me to judge this show against my personal taste in music. I was at the Embassy to see how Britain’s leading tribute show to the spiky-haired diva would play out in 2024 and I am pleased to say that I enjoyed the show overall.

Justine Riddoch winner of Stars in Their Eyes, performing as Tina Turner really does do a magnificent job of bringing Turner back to life as she struts across the stage in typical Turner fashion with short skirts, high heels and long legs. But it was her voice that really won me over, as a non-fan I cannot say that I would know if it was note perfect but even to a casual observer, it was pretty clear that she has closely studied the original’s gait, mannerisms and vocal delivery and succeeds in reproducing the whole package before her audience.

With a five-piece band consisting of drums, bass, keys, guitar and sax, and five long-limbed backing dancers the show has a scale deserving of the Queen herself. The dancers added glamour and most importantly energy to the show and were a helpful addition to the show to allow Justine to change outfits between songs as the band played on. Lighting and sound clearly play their part in enhancing the show but there is no denying that it is a vehicle for the front-woman and would be nothing more than a high-end cabaret show without her.

But the quality of the costuming and dance routines elevated the performance wonderfully. So many effective costumes from light-up wings and bikinis to magnificent golden wings outstretched during the movie montage, as James Bond and Mad Max appeared on the screen behind the performers and we heard Goldeneye and We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome) . Speaking of film work, I also enjoyed their version of Acid Queen from Tommy

Beginning with Steamy Windows, the show opened as plumes of smoke rose from the platform on which “Tina” appeared, cutting the perfect silhouette with the familiar raspy voice and from there, we return to the earlier hit River Deep – Mountain High giving the audience a high energy opening to the show before slowing it down with a semi-acoustic version of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together. Surprisingly, the first part of the show contained many of Turner’s biggest hits which I assumed might have been saved for the second act, but the reason they were not, was in no small part due to the fact that they were saving some really strong crowd-pleasers to lift the pace of the second half, defying the audience to stay seated throughout.

An impromptu dance zone developed at the front near the stage and those who didn’t fancy the journey to the front simply danced in their seats. So many hits were accurately recreated before our eyes with What’s Love Got to Do With It? Private Dancer, It Takes Two, Shake Your Tail Feather and many, many more. The whole evening had a real party feel to it, and Justine as Tina did everything to indulge the wants and needs of her audience, even giving a series of shoutouts to members of the audience and coming off the stage to flirt with, dance with, and hug her deeply appreciative audience.

I have to say that, I really enjoyed this, despite the music not being something I would have listened to as a first choice, but the show won me over and was a really good night out - which everyone needs in the current climate. Congratulations to everyone involved in making Totally Tina a huge success.

Andy Evans 21 April 2024

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