Beautiful the Carole King Musical holds a special place in my heart because I was brought up on most of her music.
As a young child I remember sitting in the car, always the front seat because I begged the most, with a large box of tapes on my lap. Remember those? My favourite little rectangle of music was a rock and roll mix. My family and I would drive along enjoying songs that, at the time, I never knew were classics.
Grandad used to click his fingers and bob his head; a habit I’m slowly starting to acquire. Mum always sang along and dad would smile at my twin and I as we bounced to the sounds. They’re really happy memories that I cherish more than anything.
And I now know that a lot of those songs were by the legendary Carole King.
Beautiful the Musical gave a touching insight into Carole Kings life; an ordinary women who became the biggest and most influential person in music history. From her turbulent relationship to her friendly rivalry with fellow song writers, this is a story that has been dying to be told.
As a young and determined teenager with a talent for music, Carole fought her way into the record industry, but her sound was missing a voice. Her college crush and future husband, Gerry Goffin, was a playwright with a love for words and they soon teamed up to pen some of the biggest hits for the biggest stars in history.
Legends such as The Shirelles, Drifters and Aretha Franklin worked with the genius duo. The show is practically exploding with some of the most famous sounds of the past such as ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’, ‘The Locomotion’ and ‘You’ve got a Friend’. However, this did mean some people felt the urge to sing along at points, which is a real a crime. It is not a sing-a-long people!
It was really interesting to see the original, raw versions melt in to a full production by the stars as it reinforced the process and transition of writing music. The Shirelles sweet girl sound and the Drifters crafted choreography would suddenly take over the stage. The whole cast committed to replicating the singers and truly embodied the era. They looked and sounded fantastic.
Will You Still Love Me tomorrow was a particular highlight. Carole’s stripped back version was charming and delicate as it was her husband that wrote the lyrics. This added much more meaning and emotion to the song. The onstage relationship and connection between Bronte Barbe (Carole) and Kane Oliver Parry (Gerry Goffin) was realistic and touching throughout.
It was tough to see just how much Carole underestimated her own talent and how long she stayed in a difficult marriage. Bronte Barbe was able to match Carole’s shy and caring persona with a sense of inner strength and determination. Her enthusiasm was endearing and her voice simply gorgeous. Bronte might have been playing a star but she is just as much of one herself.
The simple brown piano was the main feature of the show, as it barely left the stage. The scenes and action revolved around the understated instrument, which was the starting point of Carole’s passion and beginning of her incredible career.
Beautiful truly is, well, beautiful. Slow, steady and collected. A heart warming, and sometimes heart breaking, autobiography that has been a long time coming.
I’m glad we can celebrate Carole’s undeniable talent and continue to enjoy arguable the best era of music. Have you seen the show? What did you think?