LOS ANGELES — Her style was instantly recognizable, and it’s hard not to shake a tail feather when you hear the music of Tina Turner — an icon so unique and incomparable that it takes two actors to portray her on stage.

“We do a lot of twirling and we do a lot of hitting,” Naomi Rodgers said while demonstrating some of the legend’s signature moves.

What You Need To Know

  • “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” is running at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood through July 9

  • After that, the show will play at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa from July 11 through July 23

  • Audience members are invited to sign condolence books located around the Pantages' lobby

  • At the Broadway opening in 2019, Tina Turner said, "This musical is my life, but it is like poison that turned to medicine"

Rodgers and Zurin Villanueva alternate donning the star’s spangled dresses, each one a nod to a different period in the performer’s life.

“This is generations right here of her career,” Rodgers said while waving an arm in front of four costumes, including a replica of her look from the “What’s Love Got to Do With It” video. “This is her whole Spectrum.”

It was a two-way street, the ladies say. Turner made the dresses, and the dresses made Turner — and the way they moved together was everything.

Villanueva says she can hear the beads rattle as she dances and points out how the skirt of one dress hangs longer in the middle but is cut much shorter on the sides.

“There’s a leg here, and there’s a leg here,” she explained. “So the legs are free.”

Pictured here is Zurin Villanueva performing as Tina Turner in the new musical. (Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)

Both actors have been with the national tour of "Tina: The Tina Turner Musical" since it launched in September. They’ve done a river deep dive into the woman they portray — studying her every move and expression — but it’s the qualities you can’t quite see that make her story one they feel privileged to tell, especially now that she’s no longer with us.

“It brings out everything in us, everything in our being and what we do, and who we are as Black women,” Rodgers explained. “It brings empowerment, it brings strength. It tells us to do instead of just sitting. It tells us to say 'yes' and tells us to say 'no.' So it's empowering.”

“Yes, testify,” Villanueva added with a growing smile.

The show has always been a celebration, but the icon’s recent passing has added a layer of reverence to the experience. There are tributes to the star outside the Pantages Theatre. And inside, there are several condolence books for audience members to sign.

Carla Ruth Stewart signed them, too.

“To even sign this book, I feel honored,” Stewart said, her hand resting on a page of one of the books that will ultimately be sent to Turner’s husband, Erwin Bach.

Stewart, who plays Gran Georgeanna, was a part of the original Broadway cast. She was there on opening night when Turner joined the cast on stage.

“I did share space with her,” she beamed, reliving the moment. “I'm on the stage with Tina Turner. It's a memory that I will hold dear in my heart forever.”

She also distinctly remembers the words Turner spoke to the audience that night in 2019: “It’s my life,” she said of the musical. “But it’s like poison that turned to medicine.”

What Stewart admires most about Turner is her reliance, she says, and her perseverance.

“Nothing stopped her,” she marveled. “And so, I think as a performer, I always look at the fact that she changed her career at 40 years old. So it's like, there's no time limit. And I just think she's just taught me that my possibilities are endless.”

She has loved telling this story since day one but cherishes the opportunity even more so now, when she says there’s a different weight to her job.

“Now we have such a greater responsibility to show her life and her story, and celebrate with her,” Stewart said.

Rodgers and Villanueva feel that weight as well as they share the responsibility of keeping Turner’s legacy rolling.

“It's otherworldly,” Rodgers said. “It is something that we take with great care. This is our baby, this story, that we take across this country to tell and to do what Tina has done and has always done, which is carry herself with power.”

“It feels like we have a job to do as oracles for people in our community, in the music community, in the theater community, to pass on this story so that more of us can triumph the way she did," Villanueva added.

“Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” is running at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood through July 9. After that, the show will play at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa from July 11 through July 23.