In stepping into experiencing the joy of Broadway re-opening I’ve been on the search for restaurants that are close to the theater and delicious. While searching for the perfect pre-Broadway dinner spot for dinner before attending a performance of TINA @TimesSquareNYC suggested Jasmines’ Caribbean Cusine, a gem on Restaurant Row — which provides an escape from the city through the senses with savory dishes and fruit-filled blends of cocktails inspired by islands throughout the Caribbean.
Jasmines’ Caribbean Cusine specializes in delectable cuisine hailing from Dominica, Antigua, St. Thomas, Trinidad, and Jamaica and their recipes have been cultivated out of family love generation after generation.
My dining and theater pal — the up-and-coming Puerto Rican artist and known Graf kid tatoverdose — https://bit.ly/2YC2kpn appreciated the taste of the comfort food which is “light” but filling and a solid choice before any theatrical event.
Now to the main event which was going to see TINA with Nkeki Obi-Melekwe now in the lead. Ladies and gentlemen Obi-Melekwe transformed herself into the legendary Tina Turner and her performance shook to my core.
This can’t be easy work because we all know the power of “the Tina Turner,” she is proud Mary and keeps it rolling and it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around the idea that any other person could bring Tina’s vibrancy and energy to a stage but Obi-Melekwe did just that.
And her vocal power can make a soul weep and there are fifteen songs in Act One and nine songs in Act Two.
Who is Obi-Melekwe? That’s a great question. Obi-Melekwe has played the lead role in London, in 2018, and then on Broadway during matinee performances since the show opened there in 2019. And this exciting, fresh breath of air is only 25-years old but she doesn’t miss a single moment of pathos when telling us the story of Turner’s abusive marriage to Ike Turner, her decline and then ascent to stardom after fleeing from him, dodging cars on a busy highway with less than a dollar in her pocket.
Kudos to the show’s creative time because they didn’t shy away from dealing with the abuse and violence that Turner suffered at the hands of a jealous Ike (Daniel Watts).
And I won’t lie, it’s difficult to watch a woman of color being abused. During TINA, I had a thick lump in my throat and a burning flash of hot tears running down my face.
The book by Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins and director Phyllida Lloyd do a brilliant job in helping us understand that because of Ike’s early experiences — having his music stolen, and experiencing deep prejudice that is part of America, like not being allowed to sleep in whites-only motels on the road during the peak of his success helped to build up his pent up rage.
All of the performances are spot on but Skye Dakota Turner as Young Anna-Mae’s vocals make you sit up straight and blink in wonder that this level of sound can come from such a small child. Perfect casting.
To learn more about Nkeki Obi-Melekwe’s TINA Journey check out the YouTube video.
TINA The Musical Shorts | Episode #4 Nkeki Obi-Melekwe’s TINA Journey https://youtu.be/ybk49aezsi4 via @YouTube
For New Jersey residents who might want to drive into the city Times Square Alliance recommends the lot on Restaurant Row, which is located at 333 West 46th Street. Other alternatives include:
249-253 West 43rd Street (Icon Parking)
401-471 West 42nd Street (MPG: Manhattan Plaza Parking)
To learn more about Jasmine’s Caribbean Cuisine — bringing Caribbean fare to Restaurant Row which is closed on Mondays (Tues-Fri 4 pm-12 am/Sat-Sun 2 pm-12 am) www.jasminecaribbeancuisine.com – @JasmineCaribbeanCuisine for Instagram and Jasmine’s Caribbean Cuisine on Facebook.
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