I had never heard of Carole King. When I tell people this they seem visibly shocked. I am too young to have been aware of the Tapestry album which is now an iconic album. However there is no doubt about this lady’s talent for song writing. Beautiful songs that stay with you. Beautiful is really the life story of Carole King – told through her songs.
Carole was from Brooklyn and although very bright (she had skipped two grades) she loved music and was always composing songs with a hope to sell them. Her mum felt she should do a teaching course instead of pursuing dreams. After Carole sold her first song, and met her future husband, Gerry Goffin, things started to move. She and Gerry were a great writing duo. Along with their friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann they have penned so many 60’s hits that even I knew. Yes I recognised 90% of the songs in this show but I had no idea who had written them. When Carole fell pregnant Gerry proposed and they got married. However he never settled and later on had affairs on and off throughout their marriage.
Songs include Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, Take Good Care Of My Baby, Locomotion, It Might As Well Rain Until September, Up On The Roof, One Fine Day, You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman, Pleasant Valley Sunday and it’s Too Late. You may well know them by The Drifters, The Monkees, Aretha Franklin, The Chiffons, Bobby Vee, Little Eva, The Shirelles and a glimpse of Neil Sedaka’s Oh Carol who wrote it for her when they dated briefly. (I did enjoy his brief appearance). This show is full of fabulous songs and I really enjoyed the feel of the 60s’ such as The Drifters doing their dance moves and the outfits of The Shirelles. When Carole first goes to try to sell her first song, that scene is full of excitement and energy. Lots of snippets of songs really give a feel of a music studio.
Carole is played by Bronte Barbe and she is exceptional in the role. Her voice is fabulous and Bronte takes Carole’s journey from a shy mousey type to a woman who is so confident she is playing Carnegie Hall. Bronte is a great actor and she certainly portrays how Carole is feeling to the audience. Gerry is played by Kane Oliver Parry and he is fabulous as the husband with issues. He plays the role with compassion so that we don’t hate him for his affairs but actually feel sorry for him. Cynthia is played by Amy Ellen Richardson and she plays the role perfectly. Cynthia is a stylish independent woman who knows what she wants and Amy gets this across without her being arrogant or tarty. It’s a fine performance. Her co-writer is Barry Mann played by Matthew Gonsalves and his quirky mannerisms give Barry the character traits he needed to make the role so much more than a supporting cast member. With a fantastic supporting cast, this is a real feel good show and the audience adored it giving a standing ovation at the end.
This show isn’t just for those of a certain generation who bought Tapestry when it first came out. This show has tunes that everyone will know. Go along and join in the fun.
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical is in Milton Keynes until 24 February 2018.