It takes heart, soul and two actresses to play Tina in musical coming to WAC

It takes heart and soul to play lead in Turner musical

Ari Groover performs “Higher” as the lead in "TINA: The Tina Turner Musical," on stage Dec. 12-17 at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. Parris Lewis also performs half of the shows on the tour because the role is so demanding. (Courtesy Photos/Matthew Murphy for Murphy Made)
Ari Groover performs “Higher” as the lead in "TINA: The Tina Turner Musical," on stage Dec. 12-17 at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. Parris Lewis also performs half of the shows on the tour because the role is so demanding. (Courtesy Photos/Matthew Murphy for Murphy Made)


It takes two to play the Queen of Rock 'n Roll in "TINA: The Tina Turner Musical."

"I was telling somebody that it feels like you're training for the Olympics," says Ari Groover, who will play Turner in four of the eight performances Dec. 12-17 at the Walton Arts Center.

Parris Lewis, who will be Tina Turner in the other four shows, even adjusts her diet so that she can perform as the icon equally known for her powerhouse voice and killer dance moves.

"I don't need to hear or ingest anything that doesn't fuel me to get through the next couple of hours," she says. "It is really important because it not only makes a difference in our shows, but it also makes a difference in what our experience is going be like for the week or the month."

"You're having to also dive into yourself and be aligned with yourself spiritually, physically and emotionally with this role because you are playing this icon whose life and career expands over decades," Groover adds.

"Not to take it to church, but making sure your heart and mind are clear to go forward -- that's something that I focus on a lot," Lewis emphasizes.

Both actresses say that the most important part is remembering when they are in the story -- whether they are Anna Mae Bullock building up the courage to leave Nutbush, Tenn., to join her mother and sisters in St. Louis or if they are Tina realizing that Ike is an abuser or if they are the Tina on the cusp of becoming a rock star.

"It is a feat, but it is a beautiful one. You not only get to learn about Tina, but you can learn about yourself and what you are able to do," says Groover.

Lewis adds that the musical, unlike the movie "What's Love Got To Do With It," tells more of Tina's story without having her abuser become the central focus of her journey.

"I think the movie does a wonderful [job], but I think the musical expands a little bit more past just the abuse and all of the stuff that people are used to seeing," Lewis says. Audiences get to see the late singer triumph over adversity, be a mother and even fall in love again.

Like the 1993 film with Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, the jukebox musical contains her hits -- "Simply The Best," "Private Dancer," "Better Be Good To Me" and "What's Love Got To Do With It" -- as well as Ike and Tina taking on "Proud Mary" and the soulful "River Deep Mountain High," alongside a few other recognizable songs from the last few decades.

While the audience sees Tina as someone who rises to great heights, the actresses playing her say that her story is still relatable and inspiring as someone who broke through barriers to win 12 Grammys and sell more concert tickets in a single concert than anyone else ever had.

"Tina, though she is a global icon, she is still one of us -- meaning that she is a woman and a Black woman," Groover says. "It shows that you can be a mother with two kids and a stepmother and still do what is in your heart of hearts, what you're supposed to do. You can still be a global icon in your mid-40s as a Black woman dominating the white male genre of rock 'n' roll."

Most importantly, Groover says, Tina is defined in this story by how she persevered rather than how she suffered.

"I think we see a bit of ourselves in Tina, and it's such an inspiring story that we can overcome any obstacles and tribulations," she says.

Lewis adds that many people are so inspired by Tina's triumph over adversity that they meet her at the stage door after the show with gratitude.

"I have heard some really miraculous stories and been able to hug some really, really beautiful women who were just like 'thank you so much for coming to our little town or our city. Thank you so much for telling this story,'" says Lewis. "Being a vessel for other people's healing -- that part alone is why the story needs to continuously be told."

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FAQ

'TINA: The Tina Turner Musical'

WHEN -- 7 p.m. Dec. 12 & 13; 1:30 and 7 p.m. Dec. 14; 8 p.m. Dec. 15; 2 & 8 p.m. Dec 16; 2 p.m. Dec. 17

WHERE -- Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST -- $42-$103

INFO -- waltonartscenter.org

BONUS -- A private VIP pre-show and at intermission, with two drinks of choice, a dedicated bar, hors d'oeuvres, desserts and a themed photo booth are available for a $49 add-on.

  photo  "I was telling somebody It feels like like youre training for the Olympics," says Ari Groover of the role of Tina Turner. Groover points not only to Turners dancing, but the transition of her character. (Courtesy Photos/Matthew Murphy for Murphy Made)
 
 
  photo  "Offstage and on stage I love 'River Deep Mountain High. I used to sing it on my own before I was even a part of this show," says Parris Lewis, who shares the role of Tina Turner with Ari Groover in "TINA: The Tina Turner Musical," on stage Dec. 12-17 at the Walton Arts Center. (Courtesy Photos/Matthew Murphy for Murphy Made)
 
 
  photo  "I have "I have heard some really miraculous stories and been able to hug some really, really beautiful women," says Parris Lewis, who also performs as Tina Turner. (Courtesy Photos/Matthew Murphy for Murphy Made)
 
 
  photo  "I was telling somebody It feels like like youre training for the Olympics," says Ari Groover of the role of Tina Turner. Groover points not only to Turners dancing, but the transition of her character. (Courtesy Photos/Matthew Murphy for Murphy Made)
 
 


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