This week Playbill catches up with Nick Rashad Burroughs, who plays Ike Turner in the Tony-nominated Tina—The Tina Turner Musical, which will play its final performance at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in August.
Burroughs' Broadway credits also include the Tony-winning Kinky Boots and the stage musical version of King Kong, while audiences around the country saw the actor in the national tour of Something Rotten! His EP Groove Machine, featuring his Pop Smash Award-nominated song “Tonight,” is available on all music platforms, and his screen credits include The Get Down, Inventing Anna, and The Real World: Corona Virus. Burroughs also played James Brown in James Brown Live and Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar Live.
What is your typical day like now?
A typical day for me: I wake up, watch the latest new music video out, or new live performances and interviews from some of my favorite artists on YouTube for hours, clean the apartment, head to the gym, and get ready to play Ike Turner in Tina on Broadway.
Are there any parts of your role or the musical that seem particularly poignant/relevant following the events of the past two years?
I honestly just love being a part of a story, as a Black man, where I get to be a fully realized human being on stage who is both glamorous and genius but underneath extremely troubled with his own demons. Audiences get to see another side of Black stories they, unfortunately, don’t always get to see. I’m honored to tell the story of how Tina Turner, a Black woman, became the Queen of rock-and-roll and what she went through to get there. Stories like this are needed simply because it’s not the usual story you see on Broadway, and representation truly matters in all realms.
With the show ending its run in August, can you share one or two of your favorite memories either on stage or offstage with the Tina cast and/or creators?
The first time I went on for Ike Turner opposite the incredible Adrienne Warren, I had about 40 friends come out to support, and seeing them all after the show made me feel incredibly loved and protected. Another moment was when I surprised Adrienne Warren and the Ikettes during the B-roll shoot for our show dressed as Tina Turner, and they got behind me and did the entire "Proud Mary" number with full lights and the band while I got to be Tina Turner on a Broadway stage for Halloween!
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow artists, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
That putting people of color in positions of power and leadership is not a new fad—it’s not to make company’s cover their bases to prove their support of diversity. It’s just what should always happen if they are qualified. People of color have been qualified for years but limited. Times are changing, and more opportunities are available now, but it doesn’t mean that they weren’t ready and qualified years ago. So I’d like to erase that narrative completely so people of color can stop making history as the first to do something we all should be able to do.
What, if anything, did you learn about yourself during the past two years that you didn't already know?
That the more I’m truly myself and learn to use the power of what makes me unique and special, the more opportunities seem to come my way.
Do you have any other stage or screen projects in the works?
I have a couple projects coming in the future that I’m excited to share later and also excited to be releasing new music soon!
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
I think that BAC [Broadway Advocacy Coalition] is an amazing organization that anyone can benefit from learning from.