Been relistening to the Tina
recording, have a few more additional thoughts from my last post
Mainly, about the show's use of "Proud Mary". Another of my favourite Tina songs and I was looking forward to it, but dang the stage context. It's set smack dab at the height of Ike's abuse, where literally after Tina attempts to overdose and is revived at the hospital, she is forced to get up and perform. The musical depicts this semi-symbolically, with siren sounds and Tina standing upright but dazed as doctors & nurses surround her, stripping her down to her underwear (complete with wig removal) then dressing her back up in her stage clothes, just as her mom orders her to go on stage. She sobs a little, and then smooths her face over and goes into performance mode. "You know... every now and then I think you might like to hear something from us... nice and easy..."
I was very much thinking of her (first) autobiography, where she explains in detail the physical toll on her mind & body during that period of her life, so there's whiplash at very direct depiction of what she had to endure off-stage to perform on-stage, and it made me feel kind of that I shouldn't applaud, or even enjoy the performance. Which was made more disconcerting because at least one person in the audience whooped in recognition when the song started, while I was still going D:
That discomfort seems to be point, though, which I find interesting! Can/should we enjoy art if we know the context behind its creation, when at the same time we're being called to enjoy the literal performance that the actors are putting on in front of us? Plus the real Tina herself divorced the songs from their context in that era, so there's those layers and I dig it?
I'd watched a few interviews with the creative team back when the promo machine was warming up, and they mostly focused on the empowerment aspect of the show and seemed to skirt around Tina's earlier history with naive-sounding questions, which frankly irritated me, but in retrospect, I can see that the neutral questions were more an awareness of how that platform wasn't the place to talk about abuse & domestic violence in a meaningful way, so they kept the questions flat. And, likely, they decided to let the show speak for itself. Much like how Tina is very candid about what she went through, the musical seems to be taking a leaf out of this and being candid as well, albeit stylized.
Plus some other thoughts!
- At one point the characters are listening to a radio and The Four Seasons's "Stay" is playing. It's used as setting, not a Jersey Boys reference, but I cracked up all the same.
- Oscar Batterham's Australian accent is pretty damn decent. A little too clean, but that's usually the case with accents that are learned, plus it's way too easy to slip over into joke!Australian. Good job!
- They don't resolve the emotional thread of Tina's relationship with her sons, Ronnie and Craig. I didn't register it until I listened to the whole recording in order, and how they neatly wrapped up the threads with Ike and Tina's mom before the finale, but the last we hear of Tina's sons is that they're unhappy at her workload and miss her, and then there's no more. I wonder if perhaps that is a bit sensitive due to Craig's passing. Maybe they'll fix it before they transfer to Broadway.
- I really love the female duets, especially Tina & Grandma in "Don't Turn Around" and Tina & Rhonda in "Open Arms". Wish Tina & Alline had a duet, though.
- So, like, Jersey Boys and We Will Rock You did the thing where they built anticipation to a specific Iconic Song by talking about it and referencing it before they actually perform it, the former being "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" and the latter being "We Will Rock You". Tina does this with "What's Love Got to Do with It?" by having other characters sing it in demos while she side-eyes them and that's just??? Really nice??? On a meta level it's super obvious because it really was her comeback song but it still gives me all the feelings!!!