Why Tina is a Soul survivor

Soul Sister: Emi Wokoma (Tina Turner) and Chris Tummings (Ike Turner)
Soul Sister: Emi Wokoma (Tina Turner) and Chris Tummings (Ike Turner)

Soul Sister – the lowry, Salford

Soul survivor might better have described the career of singing star Tina Turner, celebrated in this new musical.

Her dramatic re-invention as an icon of female empowerment, after years of domestic abuse from the man who created her, is already the stuff of legend.

And although Soul Sister claims to be “inspired by the music, life and times of Ike and Tina Turner”, there’s really only one figure centre stage, leaving Mr Turner as a rather forlorn footnote, despite best intentions.

Indeed, his character is actually wiped out of the closing scenes, by one of the stage ‘flats’ that criss-cross the set design to reveal characters, costume changes or props.

Those, and the synchronised back projections that illustrate the story’s timeline through the first act, give the show its initial zest – even if they also give the audience information overload.

Soul Sister has been devised by John Miller and Pete Brooks, with the latter also sharing direction. No-one’s taking credit for the clichéd writing, which also prevents some of the hard-working cast lifting their performances.

So forget anything River Deep, or Mountain Highbrow, just sit back and relax into a spirited tribute show packed with good music and feeding directly off the raw energy of Emi Wokoma in the title role.

The voice might not always measure up, but when it comes to emulating that ungainly rolling gait of a dance move that made Tina Turner such a live stage spectacle – she’s like the real thing!

As Ike, Chris Tummings will just have to get over the audience pantomime booing his final stage walkdown.

Soul Sister runs to Saturday, but comes to Blackpool later in the summer.

by David Upton