Tag Archives: Beautiful

REVIEW: Beautiful the Carole King Musical – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Beginning with the now famous Carnegie Hall concert in June 1971 to celebrate her seminal album Tapestry, Beautiful the Carole King Musical, quickly flashes back 14 years to a 16-year-old King (then just plain Carol Joan Klein) about to sell her first song (It Might as Well Rain Until September) to Don Kirshner at Aldon Music. In the blink of an eye, King has a new name, is pregnant, married to the man who would become her world-famous song writing partner, Gerry Goffin, and churning out hit after hit.

King’s isn’t a tale of sunshine and rainbows, there’s a world of pain behind the boppy pop songs making it more than the straight-forward jukebox musical: young motherhood and marriage, self-doubt and Goffin’s mental collapse and chronic infidelity. It also explores the friendly rivalry between Goffin and King and fellow song writers (and real-life partners) Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann at their Times Square hit factory at 1650 Broadway. The relatable human aspects of the tale, despite the fame and acclaim of the main protagonists, give it a greater resonance with its audience.

For all the moments of drama the story is pretty functional but it still manages to tug at the heart strings in all the right places. The story having been given the inevitable American gloss-over, it’s left to the songs to carry the tale. And what songs: Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Up on the Roof, One Fine Day, The Loco-Motion and Pleasant Valley Sunday from Goffin and/or King, and Mann and Weil’s Walking in the Rain and On Broadway, to name a few. If there’s one criticism of the music it’s that many of the songs are presented as works in progress, snippets rather than full production numbers and it leaves you, on most occasions, begging for more, more, more. The full production numbers like the Drifters On Broadway and particularly The Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, Barry Mann’s rendition of We Gotta Get Out of This Place and King’s own (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman and You’ve Got a Friend give you goose bumps.

Bronté Barbé, while not entirely the epitome of King, her voice is a tad nasal, does capture her essence, and when at full belt is utterly electrifying. Amy Ellen Richardson’s Cynthia Weil is a knockout, her energy levels and roof-raising voice are a treat. Kane Oliver Parry is a nicely judged Gerry Goffin, the object of our ire for the evening, and Matthew Gonsalves excels as the fantastically comic, and hugely talented hypochondriac, Barry Mann. The ensemble are first rate, doubling up as the roster of hit acts who recorded King’s songs.

Fundamentally, Beautiful is the story of one woman quite literally finding her voice. After a career providing hits for some of the biggest artists of the 60s, King emerges from the shadows, uses the highs and lows of her life and finally claims the limelight for herself. Both empowering and entertaining, a ‘must-see’.

Runs until 17 February 2018 | Image: Birgit & Ralf Brinkhoff

This review was originally written for and published by The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: Beautiful – Aldwych Theatre, London

A little lacking in plot, it is the star-making turn of Katie Brayben which elevates Beautiful above your common or garden jukebox musical.

"'Beautiful-The Carole King Musical' Play performed at the Aldwych Theatre, London, UK"

Tracking the life and career of Carol King, from prodigiously talented child, through her teenage marriage to fellow Brooklyn resident and musical genius Gerry Goffin, (the songs come easy but King’s personal life fails to mirror her chart success) to her subsequent solo career and the record-breaking (25 million copies sold) 1971 album Tapestry.

While the book fails to really sparkle, the music and the acting deliver entertainment in spades.

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Throw into the mix the friendly rivalry between Goffin and King and fellow hit factory pairing Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and the hits just keep on coming.

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There’s Neil Sedaka, the shiny-suited Drifters, The Shirelles resplendent in bubblegum pink satin, the Righteous Brothers and Little Eva to name only a few. And the songs, oh, what songs: Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Up on the Roof, You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, We Gotta Get Out of This Place, On Broadway, The Locomotion, Pleasant Valley Sunday, Natural Woman and You’ve Got a Friend are just a few, and hearing these classic hits delivered with such care and enthusiasm, is a tonic for even the hardest of hearts.

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beautiful londonBeautiful fails to scratch any deeper than the surface but it is an undeniably entertaining night at the theatre with an outstanding cast and score: Brayben, Alan Morrissey as Gerry Goffin and Ian McIntosh & Lorna Want as Mann & Weill are exceptionally talented (as are the supporting cast). An utter joy for the ears, it should be praised for throwing King, this hugely talented woman, centre stage and firmly in the spotlight where she and her world-beating music deserve to be.