Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Review by Hannah Richardson
Warning – this musical, on stage at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday, is likely to send you home singing.
Bronté Barbé, who in 2010 was a finalist in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s BBC1 TV series Over The Rainbow, excels in the title role of Carole King, the singer songwriter whose classic tunes formed a soundtrack to the 1960s and ’70s.
She’s supported by an excellent cast including Kane Oliver Parry as King’s husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin, and Amy Ellen Richardson Matthew Gonsalves who play the couple’s friends and songwriting rivals, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann.
But the real stars of the show are the songs. I don’t think any of us realised that King and her talented friends were responsible for so many of the hits we know and love from our youth.
One after another, the songs keep on coming, performed by the cast and the ensemble, who take on the roles of girl and boy groups the Shirelles and The Drifters.
Hit numbers include It Might As Well Rain Until September, Take Good Care Of My Baby, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Up On The Roof, The Locomotion, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, One Fine Day, Walking In The Rain, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, It’s Too Late, You’ve Got A Friend, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, and, of course, Beautiful.
Punctuated by the brilliant songs, the show tells the story of the early part of Carole King’s life, her passion to become a songwriter, her early marriage to Gerry Goffin, their friendship with Weil and Mann and King’s signing with impresario Donnie Kirshner.
It ends with the split from the mentally fragile and unfaithful Goffin, King’s impending move to a songwriting community in Los Angeles, and the release of her solo album – and we’re barely into the 1970s.
This is a happy show with great songs and great performances.
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