Beautiful – The Carole King Musical: Theatre Review

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I went to see Beautiful – The Carole King Musical on Friday and I simply had to come on here and rave about it because I thought it was brilliant. I had no idea who Carole King was but since it won rave reviews on Broadway, I had to check it out and I’m glad I did. It is a truly enjoyable night out and also pretty powerful and emotional.

The plot charts Carole’s life from 16 years to 29/30 years old – from selling her first piece of songwriting, to collaborating with husband Gerry Goffin, falling pregnant, starting write hits as a duo, and troubles in their married life when Gerry’s eye starts to wander.

'Admirable': Katie Brayben as Carole King in Beautiful.

There was not much to it in the beginning and I thought, as sometimes is the case with jukebox musicals, it was simply going to rattle through all the hits by King/Goffin and their competitors/friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann with not much else going on. There are many hits like Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Take Good Care of My Baby and Some Kind of Wonderful. I loved all the songs and the scenes in between of their songwriting competitions, but I was waiting for something more to happen. The proper personal life element finally comes into play just before the interval and then you become so emotionally involved in King’s life and songs.

This is all down to Katie Brayben, who rightly won the Olivier Award this year for the role. It would be a completely different experience without her, she is just so, so good! At first I thought two different people were playing Carole, but no, she was just amazing at playing Carole when she is 16 to when she is almost 30. To portray somebody convincingly through that time span is impressive. She can also sing brilliantly, her Brooklyn accent seemed fine to me and when she gets sad, you really feel for her. Her speech where she ends her marriage got a round of applause and it was so deserved. It brought tears to my eyes! In fact, I had tears in my eyes towards the end just because I was so happy for Carole! That’s how much Katie makes you like and relate to Carole and want her life to work out.

I knew way more songs in this than I realised. She is behind so many brilliant hits! It is great for a sing a long. I also loved the feeling of trying to guess which song they are about to sing in the songwriting room. I thought Alan Morrissey as Goffin was good, but I really loved Lorna Want as Cynthia (another award winner) and Ian Mcintosh as Barry. They are so funny. Barry cracked me up a lot.

If you want a theatre experience where you can sing along to some 1950s and 1960s classics then this is the one for you. It has heart, a loveable lead character, some top-quality singing and a good mix of emotion and comedy. Top marks!

At the Aldwych Theatre in London

Comments

  1. You seem to have very a similar view as to one of our reviewers…
    “Hands up, if you don’t know the name Carole King (apart from it being the title of this review)? Yep. I counted myself in that number until going to the Aldwych Theatre to see “Beautiful The Carole King Musical” when I discovered I not only knew the name, but knew and loved virtually everything this highly talented singer/songwriter had ever put together.”
    and then ended up with a 5-star review…
    “Katie Brayben was really amazing and looked genuinely surprised when she came out to take her bow and the audience rose as one to give her a standing ovation. She shouldn’t be surprised because if ever an actress deserved to have the clapping and cheering punters on their feet, she certainly did. “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” is another one of those shows where superlatives fail me. A truly awesome show that, and can I make a prediction? This fabulous show will go all the way.”
    Will it be a long-running show? It doesn’t seem to have had the fanfare that some other musicals had had but everyone that goes to see it seems to love it.
    https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/103410/awesome-5-star-beautiful-the-carole-king-musical/

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