I cried again – this time in German. Barbara Bullock
It was May 26th. Some of you may know why the 26th is significant. When it was announced that the Tina Turner musical would open in Germany, there was no doubt in my mind that I would just have to go see it there. Tina/Anna Mae had said how important Germany is to her. I knew that I wanted to support her and started planning my trip to Hamburg. After having the privilege to go to the musical in London several times, I was really curious how the musical would turn out in Hamburg. At first, I wasn’t sure how a story from Nutbush, Tennessee to the world’s biggest stages would be interpreted in another language given the iconic Tina songs many people around the world love. Quite honestly, I had read quite a few posts that criticized the songs being sung in German. I had an open mind. I knew that; however, the show was translated, I would probably compare the show to the premiere in England and its huge success there anyway. Stakes were set high for sure! However, I would also know that nothing that Anna Mae Bullock from Nutbush, Tennesse does is done half-heartedly. In addition, Anna Mae’s story is German too. Come with me to Germany.
Beginnings in Germany
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been very fond of Germany – a beautiful country (especially countryside with its lush forests, green meadows, and crystal-clear lakes), its people, products, food (yes, those pretzels and sausages) and language. For me it was a foreign country and crossing the border into Germany was exciting! In those days you needed German Marks (Deutschmark) and a passport. I couldn’t wait to spend time there. Over the years many travels would bring me back. I would stay with friends on their couches, spend vacations with relatives in a single-family home, house sit a fancy apartment in a big city, and stay at the finest hotels from Munich, Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin, Gelsenkirchen, Duesseldorf, Karlsruhe, Frankfurt, Mannheim, to Bremen, and a little in between. What all the travels had in common was love. Love of people and love of music. Some of the brightest stars in pop and rock music would see me at their concerts in Germany. Little did I know back then how my love story with Germany would connect me to little Anna Mae from Nutbush, Tennessee.
Having seen the show in London before gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect in terms of music, dialogue, and story. Once again, Tina – Das Tina Turner Musical is not just a tribute to one of the most successful artists of all time. To me it is the very personal story of little Anna Mae, her adversities, obstacles, and pain and how she, through her God-given talents, audacity, faith, hope, and love not just survives but literally thrives. Last but not least, it is also a praise of all people in her life who saw the real Anna Mae and her immense potential when others looked away.
The difficult times are once again shown quite graphically. I thought I should get used to them by now. Prepare tissues if you have not yet. So here I go again. At times, I could no longer watch. That’s how real it gets and how amazingly gifted actors and actresses we see are. I won’t give details as I do hope you get to see it for yourself.
The story builds up and we still remember the little girl from Nutbush filled with a beautiful heart of big dreams but asking herself whether she should indeed leave and go out into the big world. We see her humble beginnings picking cotton. Then, everything changes with Ike Turner (the Hunter…..played by Mandela Wee Wee) who changed everything including her name to make her his own. Hard work, devastation, prayer, faith, hope and success follow breaking any barrier on the way. By the time the story is in Las Vegas, I do feel like dancing as I am celebrating Anna Mae’s freedom. It comes with a hefty price though and lots is still to come.
A cast that makes the story become real
Once again, the casting is superb and each of the members deserves the entire Stage Operettenhaus clapping just for them. The evening I came to Hamburg, Adisat Semenitsch totally convinced as Zelma Bullock, Adi Wolf touched my heart and soul once again during one of my favorite scenes of the entire story, the love story between a grandmother and her granddaughter little Ann. Denise Lucia Aquino was the beloved sister Alline who would always see her sister Anna Mae through everything. Protective yet powerfully standing up when needed, one could see that Alline was a rock in Anna Mae’s turbulent life and career. Whenever I think of Alline, I am certain that she still watches out for her sister today from the Great Beyond. I am so happy that we often see her character in the musical so audience members who might not have known her well have a chance to do so now.
I’d like to also thank the following cast members: Michael B. Sattler, Sarah Schuetz, Stefan Preuth, Alex Bellinkx, Mario Wehmeier, Kristofer Weinstein-Storey, Yasmin, Lina, Issa, Kerry Jean, Kellianna Jay, Donielle David, Tina Ajala, Kristel Constant, Claudio Goncalves, Dinipri Etebu, Philip Nowicki and conductor Broder Kuehne for an incredible evening in Hamburg.
I had not heard of Nyassa Alberta prior to this musical, so I looked forward to seeing her in certainly the most significant role on the Reeperbahn. In pictures and videos of the premiere I had instantly liked her and a good feeling. Tina and Erwin Bach surely must have approved of her, and I trusted their judgment as well. In the musical, we see various versions of Anna Mae/Tina Turner from the teenager ready to leave her nest, in her famous stage clothes and wig, fighting for her life, and sitting on the floor chanting. Once again in Hamburg, the star becomes human, a personality a person, and the story of little Anna Mae from Nutbush, Tennessee, USA touches hearts of the audience over again.
Nyassa Alberta is a star in her own right. Not only immensely talented, her voice sounding very close to Anna Mae’s singing voice, so much so that I got goosebumps. Is this Tina or Nyassa singing in front of me? Neither actually. I believe that Nyassa must have drawn from Anna Mae’s inspiration that it swapped over to her for everyone to see. For those who did not have a chance to see Tina perform live during her career, check out Nyassa Alberta. She will give you goosebumps for sure too. I personally thought that Nyassa is a very likable actress and did a fantastic job at the musical. Her acting is real and I really felt I was back in time. I always wonder in amazement how artists remember all the dialogue and lyrics? I certainly was not made for this.
Furthermore, I would soon experience another highlight when Nyassa interacted with the audience and allowed us to photograph and film her at the end of the show during the concert like part during the famous songs of “Nutbush city limits” and “Proud Mary”. Needless to say, the musical felt more like a concert now, audience dancing and singing along, Nyassa so kind to even shake hands. It cannot be easy to perform and act sometimes every single day in a show like this, so it is good to know that some of the energy is returned from the audience to the performer. Not only that, but I thought that it is the interaction with the audience that made Nyassa Alberta into Tina Turner even more so, who no matter how exhausted and weary she is on stage, would never forget her audience. Not only had Nyassa indeed turned into Tina that evening. She has a heart of gold, a shining light, and immense talent and charisma to take her career higher and higher. I am so grateful to have seen Nyassa Alberta live and will never forget this incredible evening. I wish you, Nyassa, all the best for your future, keep shining. I would love to see you again someday.
Iconic Tina Turner songs in German
So did the Tina Turner songs in German work for me? Absolutely. A few songs are not translated. Of the ones that are, most I thought are interpreted quite literally so there isn’t really that much of a difference lyrically. One song that I particularly liked is the German version of Private Dancer. The German text changes the meaning of the song to I will continue to dance. I really loved this change in the musical because it shows that things were not as easy as they seemed for Anna Mae. I thought that is was absolutely fitting to let her sing that she would continue to dance. In my understanding, this means I will continue no matter what.
Last but not least, Simon Mehlich as Erwin Bach.
When Simon Mehlich came on as Erwin Bach, the audience almost cheered, naturally we are in Germany. Surprisingly, many scenes in the musical are also very witty and funny. So also, the scenes between Anna Mae and Erwin. My heart filled with love and my mind became thoughtful though. Everyone knows their love story. I reminisced my being in Germany. Germany means many positive experiences and emotions and is the home of beloved husband Erwin, so Anna Mae says in the program that you can purchase at the merchandise booth. Tina or Anna Mae, which ever it is, Erwin Bach has saved both. One particular scene at the Tina Das Tina Turner Musical shows him believing in her as an artist and with his knowhow of the record business seeing her success with What’s love got to do with it to be in reachable distance likely saving her career for good. And recently in her book Tina Turner My love story she revealed that it was her beloved Erwin who saved her life not long ago. What’s love got to do with all this? My heart fills with admiration for an amazing man who stands by the person Anna Mae no matter what happens. Without a doubt without Erwin Bach the record executive, there was no Tina the way audiences know her. Without Erwin the caring husband, we wouldn’t have our beloved Anna Mae anymore. And so, as I fly over Germany back home, looking out through the window I know that far in the distance over the clouds there must be Erwin Bach’s birth place somewhere. I smile. Oh, how I wished I could thank you, Erwin, in person and hear your beautiful German accent. As I say a prayer of gratitude, I now know that it was love of people and music that brought me to Germany again.
To the entire production team, I bow and say thank you for not just an amazing night out but most surely the best musical I will ever see. See you on Broadway.
Thank you, Anna Mae, for being you.
Copyright © 2019 by Barbara Bullock, M.F.A., spiritual writer
Have you been inspired today? Barbarabullock.wordpress.com
Photo credit Tina – Das Tina Turner Musical and Barbara Bullock May 26, 2019
Tina – Das Tina Turner Musical Hamburg
Venue Stage Operettenhaus, further credits see London team
Tina – The Tina Turner Musical
Director: Phyllida Lloyd, Venue Aldwych Theatre, Choreographer: Anthony Van Laast, Music director: Thomas Kelly, Producers: Tina Turner & Erwin Bach, Joop van den Ende, Stage Entertainment, Tali Pelman, Book by Katori Hall
Tina Turner My love story, book, Atria Books; First Edition edition (October 16, 2018)
What’s love got to do with it, song, Capitol, 1984, Terry Britten, Grahan Lyle writers.
Disclaimer: This post states the author’s opinion only for a free personal blog that serves to inspire others and is not meant to represent Ms. Tina Turner, Erwin Bach, her associates nor the producers of Tina The Tina Turner musical/Tina Das Tina Turner musical. No harm or infringement intended. Barbara Bullock.