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A CurtainUp Review
River Deep, A Tribute to Tina Turner
In the mostly confessional monologues, we hear of Tina’s beginnings in the Tennessee cotton fields, her early fascination with music, of course her tumultuous and career-making relationship with Ike Turner, her fall into poverty and obscurity, her interest and reliance in Buddhism, and her magnificent rebirth into a mainstream solo career after considerable personal struggle. The best moments in the show are the simple ones, including one or two of the original songs. "Southern Nights" in particular stands out. A compelling dance solo by Pat Hall in the central role with a soulful non-verbal chorus in support also brings vibrant excitement.
Unfortunately, while Ms. Hall is a remarkably fine, even dramatic, dancer and an adequate singer, she is not an effective actress here, and her monologues have a portentous quality in their delivery. Equally unfortunate in the writing are respectively self-conscious and lugubrious attempts at poetry and civil rights history.
The physical production, while simple in design, is ambitious, and often decidedly too busy for the intimate personal material. The excess is particularly wasted when the very busy sensuously gyrating dancers are upstaged by their own oversized photographic images projected on the back wall. The projections themselves are superb, but serve only to muddy and confuse the performance.
No sound designer is credited (unusual for a musical production today); in fact, there is no musical direction credit either. Should such services be recruited, there certainly is work to be done, especially in balancing music levels. In the opening segment, the lyrics of the on-stage vocalist, even while she was virtually eating the microphone, were totally incomprehensible.
The Internet Theatre Bookshop "Virtually Every Play in the World" --even out of print plays
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by our editor.
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