Memphian, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright brings Tina Turner musical to Orpheum

Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 6:44 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - On Valentine’s Day, “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” takes center stage at the Orpheum Theatre, and the Memphis mastermind behind the project is Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Memphis native Katori Hall.

“I remember growing up as a little girl going Downtown seeing people with their furs on rolling up into the Orpheum and I’m like, ‘Oooh, maybe one day I’ll be able to create something that people can wear their furs to,’” Hall said.

For her, that dream has come true, and she says to be able to share it with her loved ones is priceless.

“I’m bursting with excitement at the fact that all my family members are going to be able to come and see it, because, you know a lot of times, people can’t travel to New York, Atlanta or wherever I’m doing my stuff,” Hall said, “and so it’s just gonna feel so good to be sitting shoulder to shoulder with my actual family members.”

This accomplished creative, who grew up in Raleigh and Frayser, never imagined she would be composing a piece for a rockstar who grew up in Nutbush. The two are miles and lifespans apart, yet “rolling on the same river.”

“To lay my hands on the story of The Tina Turner, I mean just never woulda thunk, but I do think the fact that we are daughters of the Tennessee soil really helped me have a deep, deep connection to her story,” she said. “She’s just so inspirational to me and to so many women and men, and I just feel so blessed that I was able to use a little bit of my talent to bring her story into this musical format and touch people in a new and different way.”

As we all know, Tina “never ever does nothing nice and easy”

According to Hall, the musical’s namesake read the script, cover to cover.

“She was involved with casting,” says Hall of Turner. “She is not just in Switzerland, laying down, she is everyday, she is a part of living and a part of the creative processes... she was like, I want it to be raw, real, cause my life was raw and real, and I was like, ‘You got the right girl to give you that.’”

Now Hall is ready to lay it all on the stage for the 901.

“Tina Turner is the ultimate survivor,” she said, “and people think they know her story, but it’s going to be something when you are in the room, with someone who is so close to Tina and is just pumping her essence right live in front of you. Not everyone got to see Tina Turner live in concert, and yet somehow we have been able to replicate that for audiences nationwide.”

The award-winning playwright wants you dressed to the 9′s. She says break out your finest:

“Bring the minks, bring the minks!”

As the curtains raise on her first-ever musical, Hall promises it will be “simply the best.”

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