Ari Groover plays Tina Turner in the upcoming run of The Tina Turner Musical at Kansas City Music Hall, Dec. 5 – 10. The Broadway vet from Georgia who grew up listening to the records talks about what Tina Turner meant to her, the impact of seeing a Black woman as the queen of rock ‘n roll and dancing her wig right off in the hardest role ever created for Broadway.
The musical is timely since we just lost Tina Turner; how long has it been in production?
The show has been on Broadway since 2019 and took a few years to get there. So it’s been running for a while, but you’re right; unfortunately, we lost our queen this year. Nobody expected it, but we can see that she lived an extraordinary life by how many people she affected.
What should people expect to see at The Tina Turner Musical?
People can expect a jam-packed concert with the music of a global icon everybody knows. You get to see memories from Tina’s life and how she became who she became. So it’s a very inspirational story about perseverance through so many obstacles, and I think that’s why she resonates with a lot of people.
Tina Turner constantly reinvented herself; does the musical focus on one period?
We cover most of her life, from her being a young child through her early career with the Ike & Tina Revue to where she really catapulted her career in her mid-40s and her reign as the queen of rock n roll. It’s a journey with peaks and valleys, but by the end, you understand what she went through and why she was a global phenomenon for decades.
What does Tina Turner mean to you?
Tina, to me, is the true embodiment of perseverance. She’s a reminder that your trials and tribulations don’t make you who you are. Seeing her catapult in status in her mid-40s reminds people that it’s never too late to do and be what you want to become. Also, as a Black woman, to see a Black woman be the face and the ‘queen of rock and roll’ was huge.
There are two Tinas on tour; why is that?
It takes two; it’s a very intense role, so Parris Lewis and I alternate each day. We both bring different interpretations, so if you can, I’d recommend coming to each show to get a different take.
Tina Turner wasn’t known for taking it easy on stage; does it take a lot of you to play her?
This is the hardest role I’ve ever played, and it’s probably the most difficult role ever created for Broadway. It’s high energy every night for nearly three hours a show.
Do you have a favorite song or number to perform?
It varies day-to-day, but the whole cast loves “Simply the Best,” you get to see the joy on the audience’s faces and their joy and memories. I have a sweet spot for “Higher,” that was the song my family played growing up all the time.
Tell me about your viral moment from playing Tina on Broadway,
Well I used to play the sister for the Broadway show and understudied for Tina. One of the first nights that I got to play the lead role, we get to the end of the show where we have a mega-mix of Tina’s hits. During “Proud Mary” things were going great and all of a sudden my wig just flew off. It was the last thing I wanted, but I just had to throw it to the side and keep going, you know the show must go on. The audience got a special performance, but I wasn’t expecting it to go viral but I guess there’s no such thing as bad press.
The Tina Turner Musical
301 W 13th St., KCMO
8 Shows Dec. 5 – 10
Tickets start at $38 available at ticketmaster.com