Beautiful the Carole King Musical Review:
**** 4 Stars
“The Musical that Sparkles with Human Emotion”
Carole King is undoubtedly the voice that spoke for an entire generation, especially through her multi million selling albums including the game changer and still relevant “Tapestry” her life though is a rich story of music, love and passion to make the world better through her mastery of song writing.
In 2014 her life story was transformed in the stage Musical “Beautiful” and following success on Broadway and in London’s west end at the Aldwych Theatre, the production hits the road with a UK tour and its made its first stop at Edinburgh’s Playhouse.
The production opens as Carole (played by the impeccable Bronte Barbe) sits at the grand piano in Carnegie Hall, Playing the stellar “So Far Away” as the song pauses we are then transported back through time to dawning of the 1960’s. Carole newly married to Gerry Goffin (Kane Oliver Parry in fine form) starts her new job at 1650 Broadway, a job that would see her co write some of the biggest songs in popular music. They are all performed in style, “Will you love me tomorrow?”, “Take good care of my baby”, “The Loco-motion” and “You Make me feel like a natural woman” and so many more.
The story also focuses on King’s friendship with Barry Mann (Matthew Gonsalves) and Cynthia Weil (Amy Ellen Richardson), as the two couples pen mega hits for the likes of the Drifters and the Shirelle’s. The show really starts to shine as we watch King’s marriage break down due to Goffins cheating and lying and the moment when King realises she and her children deserve better is a triumph of acting skill from Bronte.
A wonderfully written book by Douglas McGrath truly comes to life on Derek McLane’s evocative set with inventive choreography from Josh Prince. The costumes beautifully designed by Alejo Vietti are a testament to the culture of the 60’s and 70’s. Director Marc Bruni has assuredly put a large-scale west end musical on the road. The only minor draw back is the sound was unbalanced with the brilliant orchestra managing to overpower the vocalists at times although never enough to truly distract, it could just have been my position in the audience and will no doubt settle down as the production gets into its run.
As the show closes to the strains of “You’ve Got A Friend” you suddenly realise that Carole King has written the sound track to many of our lives and she remains an incredible force in the industry, Beautiful the Musical is fine and fitting tribute to an Icon which just like King herself, sparkles with human emotion.
Michael Harrison Presents “Beautiful the Carole King Musical”, Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre Runs until Saturday 2nd December Tickets from £17 go to http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/edinburgh-playhouse/