Whatever you think of "Tina: The Tina Turner Musical," the fight choreographers do not get enough recognition. We don't even get a name for those who crafted the stage combat in the musical, just a credit of Sordelet Inc.
But Rick Sordelet and Christian Kelly-Sordelet deserve their flowers, for "Tina" is a story of survival of harrowing brutality and they so expertly choreograph the unrelieved viciousness that the rock icon endured at the hands of her husband, Ike Turner, that we feel a little bruised, too.
The show — whose Broadway tour opened a two-week run Wednesday at Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre — tells on the music industry and America itself even as it delivers a tale of resilience and reinvention also chronicled in Turner's autobiography, "I, Tina," and in the film "What's Love Got to Do With It."
For little Anna Mae Bullock rises from rural Nutbush, Tenn., where she is abandoned by her parents and raised in the church by her grandmother. In the next phase of her life, she's renamed and becomes the title draw of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, then finally gets to reinvent herself again in midlife as the queen of rock 'n' roll.
There's a formula to the jukebox musical, and Pulitzer-winner Katori Hall ("The Mountaintop") varies it enough and takes enough liberties to keep us hanging on. Many facts about her life are elided and whole characters, including siblings, are eliminated from the story.
The real power of "Tina" comes from British director Phyllida Lloyd's staging, with music driving story, story driving emotion and emotion driving music. It climaxes as a rock concert.
The music loop mixes well with Anthony Van Laast's relentless choreography and Jeff Sugg's projection design to transport us not only into the various venues of the story but also into the emotions and feelings.
The massive cast delivers with energy. Understudy Parris Lewis as Turner finds the depths of the singer's hurt and sometimes stays there a little long. Her voice does not always sound like Turner's but it's enough when she channels her on "Proud Mary."
Tuner's gifts are undeniable, but it is her indefatigability that makes her story so compelling. Lewis captures that winning spirit.
Nicole Powell is beneficent as Gran Georgeanna (she alternates with hometown hero Ann Nesby, who was absent Wednesday). There's humor, as well, if you can believe it. As Tina's mother, Zelma, Roz White delivers with wit and style.
The show does not reflect that Ike did other things than beat people, including writing "Rocket 88/Matchbox" — considered the first rock song. As Ike, Garrett Turner (yep, that's his name) plays the one-note role so well that you want to call the cops on him.
The world of "Tina" is one where gender and race limit possibilities. With Ike, she was constrained by her race to rhythm and blues and by his drug- and mentally addled ways. When she leaves him after 16 years, she is told what many women are told — that she is past her shelf life. As a record label honcho tells her shockingly in the story, using a washed-up slur.
But the show, which also includes her Christian and Buddhist influences, is a kind of sermon. And how you start, or even what you go through, is just a kind of fire to burn off the outer layer to reveal the true core.
"Tina" shows how much the icon's performance talent has become part of the DNA of the music industry. Superstars such as Beyonce and Rihanna owe her a debt. Blessedly, they did not have to endure the same horrors that she did to entertain us with such incredible music and dance. And for that, we should all give thanks that, as she sings, "We Don't Need Another Hero."
'Tina — The Tina Turner Musical'
Who: Book by Katori Hall. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd.
When: 7:30 p.m. Wed., 1 & 7:30 p.m. Thu., 8 p.m. Fri., 2 & 8 p.m. Sat., 1 & 6:30 p.m. Sun. Ends March 12.
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.
Tickets: $40-$139, hennepintheatretrust.org.