Afrocentric Theatre, Music, Culture and Business

Nkeki Obi-Melekwe (Tina Turner) Interviewed Nkeki Obi-Melekwe (Tina Turner) Interviewed
Nkeki Obi-Melekwe (Tina Turner) Interviewed

EOL: What inspired you to audition for the role of Tina?
NO: I remember watching the trailer video for the show on Facebook. A friend of mine had posted it onto another friend’s wall and I decided to watch it. I was amazed – I remember thinking, “This is fierce!”. Later in the year, I saw that they were looking for a new Tina for the year two cast in London. I contacted my manager about it and asked “Hey, do you think I may be too young for this?” A few days later I had my first audition!


EOL: tell us briefly about the show and how you wanted to portray Tina?
NO:Tina – The Tina Turner Musical explores our title character Tina Turner on the cusp of a rebirth, but before she can be reborn, she looks back at her life and all the moments that led her to the present. No. Holds. Barred.  It is important to me to always play her as someone who is looking for a solution, never dwelling on the problem. I think that is something that is inherently in Tina’s spine.


EOL: did you feel the spirit of Tina was breathing down your neck, if so how did you prepare for the role especially for the very physical side of it?
NO: It would be easy to dwell on how physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding the show is but the rewards of playing this role and being part of this amazing show totally override all that. I have to be very kind to myself with this process. I listen to my body and if I need to sleep all day to recuperate, I do that. If I need to eat an entire pizza after a long week’s worth of shows, I most definitely do that. It’s not always that easy, but it’s all about balancing and listening to yourself.


EOL: There are lots of amazing costume changes and songs. What are a couple of your favourites?
NO: The costumes are stunning! It’s hard to pick a favourite because they are all so specific and each one highlights a part of Tina’s journey. But the dress I wear for bows and the megamix is stunning. The dress has Swarovski crystals hand sewn to it. Hand. Sewn. It’s very glamorous and very heavy, actually.


EOL: this is your West End debut role, tell us briefly about you acting journey?
NO: I started performing when I was about 13 years old or so. I was fortunate enough to go to a vocational magnet high school in North Carolina where I grew up. I learned so much from that school and from the theatre scene in North Carolina and that’s where I grew confident about performing. I then went to the University of Michigan to study Musical Theatre. The school has a really solid reputation in the States.


Most of what I know about being a performer I learned from Michigan. I spent my summers performing and that led to so many more connections. I moved to New York right after school last year and got to work with some of my biggest inspirations like Jerry Mitchell and Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater (writers of Spring Awakening) and Jeanine Tesori.


I also guest starred on a few TV shows, which I never thought would happen. Tina is my first huge job out of school. It’s been a busy year!


TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL is currently booking to 11 January 2020 at the Aldwych Theatre, London. www.tinathemusical.com

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