What a joyous time we had, mouthing the lyrics of every song and learning much about a very talented performer, composer and lyricist in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
This musical tells the story of a strong determined woman, who took control of her life and earned her happy ending. It goes against the tendency of the biographical musical to portray the negatives, sex, drugs, drink. These may have influenced Carole King’s life, they did not define it.
With all the aplomb of a 16 year-old, Carole catches the train from Brooklyn to Manhattan to sell her first song to Don Kirschner, one of the 1950’s music industry heavyweights. She meets Gerry Goffin and together they become a team in the music industry as songwriters, and as a family.
Like many people who marry and have children when they are very young, as time passes, Carole and Gerry find they have different ambitions. She longs for the white picket fence in the suburbs; he craves the bright light of the city and the low light of nightclubs.
But don’t expect any salacious revelations – the breakdown of their marriage is treated with dignity. Despite their divorce, King said of Goffin, “Gerry was a good man with a dynamic force, whose words and creative influence will resonate for generations to come. His legacy to me is our two daughters, four grandchildren, and our songs that have touched millions and millions of people, as well as a lifelong friendship”.
I was surprised to learn how many of the popular sixties artists recorded Carole King/Gerry Goffin hits. For instance, did you know Little Eva’s hit ‘The Locomotion’ was written by them, or The Shirelles’, ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ and The Drifters’ ‘Up on the Roof’?
Variety is added to the music by the introduction of some hits penned by their best friends, and strongest competition, songwriting team, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann who wrote the amazing ‘You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling’.
When it is all said and done, this is a musical and in that respect, Beautiful leaves nothing to be desired. The musical numbers are brilliant and had me wanting to get up and dance. (Note to the people who didn’t just mouth the words – no-one pays to hear you!)
This is a wonderfully talented ensemble cast, who sing and dance with energy and verve; no-one is a prop. The cast maintained high energy throughout the two hours, much appreciated by this reviewer who has seen too many casts “walk” through early week performances.
Winner of five Helpmann awards, including the much coveted Best Musical, leads Esther Hannaford (Carole King), Lucy Maunder (Cynthia Weil). Matt Verevis (Barry Mann) and Josh Pitman (Gerry Goffin) are superb. They shine in a cast of stars and play off each other in, dare I say it, perfect harmony.
If you’ve seen Beautiful: The Carole King Musical lucky you. If you haven’t, try to get any seat you can – this show is well worth the cost of the ticket.