Emi Wokoma makes Soul Sister a 'hot' ticket

First published in What's On Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Editor

WHERE have you been Emi Wokoma – the relative newcomer whose mesmerising performance dominates Soul Sister, the two-hour plus show depicting the rise to fame and turbulent times of Ike and Tina Turner?

This is no karaoke tribute act – Wokoma has a vocal power which is all her own – but she positively nails the gawky dance moves and the raw sexual energy of Tina in her pomp.

Driven by a great live band which floats effortlessly through the musical styles, costumes and hairstyles (!) of several decades, and backed by some sassy Ikettes, it’s a jukebox musical that makes you want to keep pumping in the coins.

The first half is strong on back story and historical context as the undoubted band-leading and songwriting skills of Ike (Chris Tummings) take Tina only so far on the R&B circuit.

It’s when Phil Spector temporarily prises her away from Ike that we see her full potential in a brilliantly-staged River Deep Mountain High which switches joyously from studio introspection to full on shimmy-dress concert mode.

While cataloguing chauvinistic Ike’s slide into wife-beating and drug addition, the second half has Tina ascending to stadium superstardom belting out hits like Proud Mary, What’s Love Gotta Do With It and (Simply) The Best, although no Nutbush City Limits – with Emi working the crowd like, well, Tina.

The same talented cast which honed the original crowd-pleasing show at the Hackney Empire and polished it with a two-month stint in the West End (Savoy Theatre) have now brought it out on tour.

It’s coming back to these parts at the New Theatre, Oxford (March 4-9) and the Everyman Cheltenham (April 2-6).

Thanks to Emi Wokoma’s dazzling performance it remains the hot ticket in more ways than one.

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