Tina: The Tina Turner Musical – Bishop’s Stortford schoolgirl Safia Khaliq-Francis, 11, says playing young Tina Turner in the West End has been ‘simply the best’
An 11-year-old Bishop’s Stortford schoolgirl who is starring in West End show Tina: The Tina Turner Musical has described her experience as simply the best.
Safia Khaliq-Francis, who attends Summercroft Primary School in Plaw Hatch Close, is coming to the end of her contract playing a young Tina Turner, then known as Anna Mae Bullock. Her debut was on September 13 and she will give her last performance at London’s Aldwych Theatre on Wednesday (January 27).
Mum Shaheen said her daughter had absolutely loved the role. “She asked if she could do this forever! She doesn’t want it to come to an end. She’s pretty amazing and I’m super-proud. It’s a great show and I go at every opportunity to watch it.”
Shaheen said both her daughters, including 13-year-old Farrah, who attends Herts & Essex High School, had enjoyed performing from a young age and on many occasions had got through to the last round of auditions for West End productions.
Having originally been turned down for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical in April, the family, who live in Highfield Avenue, then got a call out of the blue to say they wanted to see Safia again.
“She’s always done musical theatre and is with a casting agency through the Deborah Day Theatre School Trust [in Newham, east London] which she’s been with since the age of two-and-a-half.
“She started auditioning aged nine and has been to lots of auditions, but never really been successful despite reaching the final stages.
“We went for the first Tina audition back in April and it was a ‘no’ as they didn’t think she was quite ready. A few months later we got a call saying would she like to come in. It caught us off-guard as we’d written it off by then.
“But she got the part and been loving it, and is gutted the contract is now coming to an end. She performs three times a week and then four times a week on a rota as there are three teams of children.”
As for the future, Shaheen said her daughter was fixed on the idea of a career in musicals. “We’ll keep auditioning, possibly the next one being for Frozen the Musical, but it’s definitely musicals for her – that’s where she wants to go in her career at the ripe old age of 11! It’s very hard, but the girls enjoy it so much.”
Shaheen and husband Gregory devote their time to taking the girls to lessons and performances after “falling into dance” when visiting their grandmother in east London.
“I used to drop them at dance school, which was up the road from my mum’s, and would go for a cup of tea and then it turned into a whole ‘thing’.
“They compete and travel a lot and this is what they want to do. They’re both quite amazing and they both sing and dance beautifully.”