Writer: Douglas McGrath.
Additional Musical Arrangement: Jason Howland
Director: Mark Bruni
Choreographer: Josh Price
It’s June 1971, in all its vibrancy and colour when the story begins; King is about to celebrate her groundbreaking album Tapestry, live in concert at the Carnegie Hall. Familiar or unfamiliar with her legacy, the audience is instantly made aware that the protagonist becomes a huge success, overcoming the emotional turbulence it transpired that she faced earlier in her life, at the hands of her absent father and adulterous husband, Gerry Goffin. So, when the story flashes back to her first hit ‘It Might as Well Rain Until September’, written 14 years before that particular concert, if they didn’t already know, the audience discover that her story of song writing, love, loss and friendship, has a happy ending.
Although the production explores the ‘behind the scenes’ of King’s rise to the fame and the inspiration for some of her greatest hits, which at times evokes a certain empathy in its audience, it is primarily a musical collection of her greatest hits: Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Up on the Roof, One Fine Day, The Loco-Motion and Pleasant Valley Sunday, to name but a few. This, however, doesn’t make it any less enjoyable – in fact, it is likely that part of the show’s success is down to just that. The production also features a number of other contemporary songs including, Weil’s: Walking in the Rain and On Broadway. This ensures that, combined with authentic costumes designed by Aleja Vietti and period furnishings selected by Derek McLane, the audience is truly transported into Carole King’s very own world.
Having recently made a transition into musical theatre, but being most famous for her role in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, Daisy Wood-Davies was sublime in the role of King. Her characterisation was compelling and genuine, lending a real realism to the performance. Similarly impressive was Cameron Sharp in his role as composer Barry Mann and, after a last minute casting change, Carly Cook as lyricist Cynthia Weil; the pair managed to create a feeling of real chemistry between the lovebirds and on stage their musicality was unrivalled. The only slight disappointment about the production was the inconsistency in vocal performances; certain members of the chorus lacked depth in their all-round abilities; seemingly they were either able to sing and dance, or dance and act, but never all three. Nevertheless, Jordan Fox and Grant McConvey’s rendition of You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling was faultless.
With the majority of the audience familiar with her dulcet tones and tunes, Beautiful – the Carole King Musical, is perfect for her fans, both old and new. This show is an absolute must-see and could not come more highly recommended to all fans of musical theatre. Contrary to one of her classics It’s too late, it’s certainly is not too late to get your tickets.
Runs until 29 February 2020 | Image: Contributed