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Soul Sister

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 20th Nov 2012 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge



Soul Sister – Darlington Civic Theatre

The popularity of the jukebox musical continues to rise as Soul Sister soars into the Civic, direct from the Savoy Theatre in London’s West End. With so many theatrical productions, nowadays, being built around the back catalogues of pop music’s biggest stars (Queen - We Will Rock You, Madness - Our House, Boney M - Daddy Cool, Barry Manilow - Can’t Smile Without You . . . you get the point, right?), it was inevitable that, at some point, the music of Ike and Tina Turner would form the basis of a stage show.

However, Soul Sister doesn’t just showcase the hits – it also tells the story of the life and times of Ike and Tina, following the highs and lows, passions and heartbreak of the couple as their careers soared and their marriage crumbled. Okay, so the storyline may be slightly superficially slotted into a stunning song set and delivered with corny comic strip projections to substitute sets and scenery but, in all honesty, the vast majority of audience members had come along to hear classic Tina Turner hits such as Private Dancer, Proud Mary, What’s Love Got To Do With It? and Simply The Best. What they really wanted to do was have a party.

Notices hastily posted around the theatre informed patrons that the leading lady, acclaimed newcomer Emi Wokoma, was unwell and her part would be played by understudy Rochelle Neil. It was an opportunity Miss Neil grabbed with both hands and nailed with precision. Her stunning vocals were utilised brilliantly as she belted out the big anthems including R-E-S-P-E-C-T and River Deep, Mountain High, whilst also seducing the audience with beautifully delivered ballads such as Help and I Don’t Wanna Fight Anymore.

Miss Neil’s acting was also convincing as she portrayed Tina Turner through her transition from gawky teenager to abused wife to global icon. Chris Tummings, as Ike, had a far more difficult job in playing an ostensibly unlikeable, controlling, abusive and neurotic man but he did so with great aplomb – even managing to elicit a degree of sympathy from the audience, at times.

Supporting roles were well played – even if the indisposition of Miss Wokoma caused something of a domino effect throughout the cast, with performers having to move up a role to cover her absence – and the choreography was well-executed and suitably evoked the style of the period.

Although, in principle, I am not a great fan of productions (other than pantomime) which encourage audience participation, dancing in the aisles, and other such distracting behaviour, I have to admit that Soul Sister did have even me tapping my feet to the beat of those epic Turner hits.

Steve Burbridge.

Soul Sister runs until Saturday 24 November 2012.


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Thanks, Steve. I have experienced this effect many times; where the use of an understudy can be a positive effect on a show. A long tour can be made fresh by this and the understudy rarely misses the opportunity to step into the spotlight. One of the many joys of live theatre!!
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