Tina Turner has agreed to the casting of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (above) to play singer and music arranger Ike Turner
Tina Turner has given her approval to the actor who will portray the man who beat her and ‘imprisoned’ her against her will for 20 years, in the premiere of a new show about her life.
The rock ’n’ roll goddess has agreed to the casting of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith to play singer and music arranger Ike Turner, who controlled Tina physically, mentally and legally for over two decades, in the musical TINA, which previews at the Aldwych Theatre from March 21.
‘It might be painful having to watch him on stage,’ said Tina, 77, ‘but I know he’s being played by an actor and he can’t hurt me.’
She told me once she rid herself of Ike, she never spoke to or saw him again. ‘He was out of my life, for ever,’ she said. Ike died in 2007.
Tina worked closely with director Phyllida Lloyd, writer Katori Hall and producer Tali Pelman, the three main architects of the musical based on Turner’s turbulent years with her first husband and her years of freedom when she summoned the courage to walk out on Ike.
Ike controlled Tina physically, mentally and legally for over two decades
It’s Holdbrook-Smith’s first major musical production, though he perfected his singing while at the Guildford School of Acting. ‘I have sung, and I do sing, but early on I was really interested in straight plays and films and television,’ Holdbrook-Smith told me.
He said that when projects come up, ‘I tell people I can sing but they never quite hear it,’ though he did land a role in the Disney blockbuster Mary Poppins Returns.
Early in his career he tried unsuccessfully for a role in The Lion King, but casting director Pippa Ailion remembered him and asked him to meet about portraying Ike.
Holdbrook-Smith didn’t think for a minute that he would make it through the first audition, let alone be seen three times before being offered the part — with Tina’s blessing.
‘It might be painful having to watch him on stage,’ said Tina, 77, ‘but I know he’s being played by an actor and he can’t hurt me.’ She told me once she rid herself of Ike, she never spoke to or saw him again. ‘He was out of my life, for ever,’ she said. Ike died in 2007
Holdbrook-Smith, who has roles in the hit Paddington 2 and Justice League, said that when he was recalled, twice, by the powers that be at TINA he found that he ‘desperately wanted the role’.
‘I realised I loved the music, always had, and Tina Turner’s this amazing icon. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be involved.’
He said his approach to portraying Ike will be that ‘there’s more detail to these horrific broken souls. I’ve always played rather good guys, so it’s nice to explore how a broken soul becomes that way. ‘
Meanwhile, he’s studying the song list and the numbers he will perform with Adrienne Warren (who plays Tina) and the songs he will sing solo.
The actor is also shooting an indie movie in Wales called The Dark Outside for director William McGregor and producer Hilary Bevan Jones.
Ike Turner and Tina Turner are seen above together circa 1964
Aisha Jawando, Sia Kiwa and Tanisha Spring play the Ikettes in TINA, as well as other roles.
The Ikettes were the backing vocalists for the Ike and Tina Turner Revue and also recorded discs in their own right.
Madeline Appiah portrays Tina’s mother Zelma and Jenny Fitzpatrick will play the alternate Tina.
Gerard McCarthy has been cast as marketing executive Erwin Bach who later became most significant to Tina, and Ryan O’Donnell portrays her astute manager Roger Davies. And Tom Goodwin plays producer Phil Spector.
Executives at Really Useful Theatres thought it a good idea to remove the six-man Palladium box office, reduce it to a two-man affair and hide it out of sight — not realising what a box office is for!
Those who gave the daft order might want to purchase multiple copies of Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Going To The Theatre (But Were Too Sloshed To Ask, Dear) by the anonymous ‘West End Producer’.
It’s packed with info about, well, going to the theatre and is full of inventive innuendo. It’s published by Nick Hern Books.
Watch out for…
Amber Riley, who will stop the show for the last time tomorrow night with her heartbreaking take on the song And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going when she plays the role of Effie in the musical Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre. It’s her final performance in the production, which opened last year.
She won the Olivier award for best performance in a musical. I saw the show a bunch of times, though I haven’t been over to the Savoy for a few months and I’ll be heading to the stalls tomorrow for one last look at Amber.
Amber Riley will stop the show for the last time tomorrow night with her heartbreaking take on the song And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going when she plays the role of Effie in the musical Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre
Three actresses — Moya Angela, Marisha Wallace and Karen Mav will share the Effie role from next week. Wallace and Mav have been alternating the part — the lead singer of the Supremes-like The Dreams who’s kicked out of the group when it’s deemed that looks market better than singing talent.
There was a lot of chatter about Dreamgirls going to Broadway, but director Casey Nicholaw has so many shows on the go (The Book Of Mormon is one of his) that it may be years before he’s available to put it on in New York.
For now, though, it’s time to say goodbye (as The Dreams sing) to the wonderful Ms Riley and her fellow castmates who are leaving, too.
Sope Dirisu who is searing as Coriolanus in director Angus Jackson’s riveting production that has transferred from Stratford to the Barbican Centre as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Rome season, which will include Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra and Titus Andronicus.
I went on Tuesday night and was transfixed by the goings on in Rome, and events in the play will certainly remind you of stuff we see in the headlines on a daily basis from Whitehall to Washington. James Corrigan as Tullus Aufidius makes a worthy foe.
And I loved Haydn Gwynne’s kick-ass mamma Volumnia and Paul Jesson’s Menenius, a once-powerful senator who doesn’t realise his power has dissipated. Jackson has assembled a good ensemble and I particularly enjoyed seeing Martina Laird, Jackie Morrison, Charles Aitken and Ben Hall.