Book by: Douglas McGrath
Music & Lyrics: Carole King & Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weill
Director: Marc Bruni
Choreography: Josh Prince
Reviewer: Taylor Simmons
Beautiful, the modern jukebox musical based on the life and music of Carole King, is the perfect ‘step back in time’. The show chronicles King’s rise to stardom from awkward 16-year-old songwriter, through her partnership with Gerry Goffin (both personal and professional), to her success as a solo artist. Featuring the collective songbook of Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Cynthia Weill and Barry Mann, the show perfectly performs the hits of the 60s such as those of the Drifters (Up On The Roof/ On Broadway), the Righteous Brothers (You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling), The Shirelles (Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?) and Little Eva (The Locomotion).
Bronté Barbé is a powerful Carole King. Her journey from awkward 16-year-old to international star is portrayed with the perfect mixture of awkwardness, vulnerability and strength. Vocally, Barbé perfectly inhabits King’s distinctive tone and inflections. From the emotive vulnerable performance of It’s Too Late to the strong and resilient You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman, Barbé’s performance is flawless and awe-inspiring. Her performance of I Feel the Earth Move is the perfect crowd pleaser to bring you to your feet. The show is hers.
Kane Oliver Parry as Gerry Goffin seduces the audience by drawing them in with his velvet voice and boyish charm. Despite his flawed character, you can’t help but warm to his broken portrayal of Goffin and empathise with his plight. Amy Ellen Richardson (Cynthia Weill) and Matthew Gonslaves (Barry Mann) effortlessly compliment Barbé and Parry. Richardson is a strong and classy Cynthia whereas Mann is suitably awkward yet loveable. Their voices blend well and their chemistry is palpable.
The iconic stars of the 60s are flawlessly conveyed by the talented ensemble: their tight vocals, high energy and slick movement helps drive the show thanks to the choreography by Josh Prince and the Musical Direction by Patrick Hurley. The band create a vibrant sound authentic to the 1960s era and it’s thanks to this that the audience are wanting to sing and dance along to the many songs in the show, creating an energetic and fun atmosphere in the auditorium.
Whether you’re looking for good music or a show with heart, Beautiful ‘beautifully’ blends both of these for an evening of great entertainment. If you want to ‘feel the earth move’ on this ‘one fine day’, Beautiful runs at the Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent until Saturday. Catch it before ‘It’s Too Late’.
Runs until Saturday 28th April | Image: Birgit-Ralf-Brinkhoff