5Q: Tina – The Tina Turner Musical
“5Q” is an online-only column featuring five questions about stage productions in the Metro Area. Periodically, “5Q” will take the form of an interview with actors, directors, writers, etc. to shed some light on the production process.
From humble beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee, to her transformation into the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Tina Turner’s story is told like never before. This stage musical, presented in association with Tina Turner herself, reveals the unforgettable story of a woman who defied the bounds of her age, gender, and race. Recommended for ages 14 and up, Tina doesn’t shy away from the abuse or racism in the star’s past.
Six-time Grammy nominee Ann Nesby takes on the role of Tina’s grandmother, Georgeanna. Minneapolis audiences might recognize Nesby as the former lead vocalist from the local Sounds Of Blackness, but she is also an acclaimed actress for stage, film and television, including Queen Sugar, The Fighting Temptations, They Cloned Tyrone, and Tyler Perry’s I Know I’ve Been Changed.
Even though you’re originally from Illinois, many Minneapolis audiences claim you as one of their own. What goes through your mind reflecting on your time with Sounds of Blackness early in your career and all the amazing opportunities you’ve had since then?
Even though I’m originally from Illinois, I lived in Minneapolis for 14 years and established relationships, close friendships, and ties in the Twin Cities that are lifelong. I can’t help but to reflect on the fact that I was a product of the Housing Projects of Joliet, Illinois and how grateful I am for where God has brought me from and blessed me to share my gift with the world.
It’s been reported that you’re due to release a new album this year. Anything you can tell the Lavender audience about your new music and when they can expect an album?
I am due to release a new album this year. It’s a project that was started with my deceased brother, “Big Jim” Wright, who was my writing partner and staff producer with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ Flyte Tyme Productions. He had just finished producing 10 songs for the project and was prepared to go into the studio the next week to produce my vocals when he unexpectedly passed away. This project is very near and dear to my heart and I want to honor his memory and share with the world the tremendous gift that he was in all of our lives.
You’ve talked before about this show’s incredibly talented multigenerational cast. As a grandmother yourself and someone who has such a storied career in music, theater, TV, and film, are you passing along any words of advice to these young performers?
I’ve been an open book to all the young people in the cast. Whenever they ask or need my advice, I try to always make myself available to the young talented performers in this show with words of wisdom, guidance, encouragement, and any knowledge that I can share from my years of experience, whether it be good, bad, or ugly.
What do you wish someone had told you when you were getting started?
I wish someone would have told me that the music business was just that, the music business, and that 80% is business and 20% talent.
You’ve said before that Gran is easy to play and relate to. Aside from being a grandmother yourself, what about this character and this story speaks to you?
It speaks to me because my grandparents were hardworking sharecroppers and they and my mother were always encouraging me to pursue my dreams and not let my gift go to waste and that my hard work would pay off.
This story is often described as one of a “come back queen,” perseverance, and never giving up. What message do you hope audiences walk away with? What is the deeper story you’re telling?
That through all the turmoil that she endured, she proved that there is still a quality life to live even after the storm of physical and emotional abuse, and that you should never give up on your dreams and aspirations.
Tina – The Tina Turner Musical runs at the Orpheum Theatre through March 12. For more information and to purchase tickets, head to www.hennepintheatretrust.org. For more information about Hennepin Theatre Trust’s vaccination policy and safety protocol, visit www.hennepintheatretrust.org/scheduling-safety-update.