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  • Tracy Heck

Tina Turner's music is star of the 'Tina' musical

Zurin Villanueva as Tina Turner photo by Matthew Murphy

An uplifting comeback story like no other, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical is playing at the Detroit Opera House until Sunday, December 18th.

Although the story could use a bit more fleshing out, it is the incomparable Tina Turner's boundary-breaking hits that are the star and carry the show through to its final triumphant note.

Songs like "Let's Stay Together," "Better Be Good To Me," "Private Dancer,""What's Love Got to Do With It" and "Simply The Best" are all here and help tell the story.

Turner, whose real name is Anna Mae Bullock, was born in Tennessee to an abusive preacher father and a mother who didn't want her.

Abandoned by her mother, father and older sister, she would be raised by her grandmother before joining her mother and sister in St. Louis in her teens where she would meet future husband Ike Turner, who would change her life in both good and bad ways.

Mirroring her own abusive upbringing, she would endure years of abuse before fleeing the relationship with her two sons and eventually having a second chance at life as a triumphant solo artist and a second chance at love with German music executive Erwin Bach.

The Tina musical is short on set pieces, concentrating instead on the power of the music and it is Zurin Villanueva as Turner who has the heaviest load and steps up to the plate in fantastic fashion as she shares the highs and lows of the singer's tumultuous life.

Ayvah Johnson as the young Anna Mae/Tina also shines bright as she vamps it up from start to finish.

The musical begins with VIllanueva sitting back turned at center stage ready to perform before a flashback of Johnson as her younger self singing over everyone else in church proceeds. As the musical winds down, the audience is taken right back to that scene as Tina readies herself for one of her biggest performances.

The show's most magical moment comes after the stage bows as Villanueva performs a enthusiastic concert-style rendition of "Nutbush City Limits" and "Proud Mary."

Young Johnson joined Villanueva for "Proud Mary" busting out in joyful bliss before the rest of the cast joined to close out the show.

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