New Wimbledon Theatre, London – until May 26th
Reviewed by Sabrina Fancy
Beautiful is the story of Carole King, one of the most celebrated singer/songwriters of all time. The story itself tells of how Carole King met her husband Gerry Goffin at 16 and got pregnant. They became musical partners composing and writing lyrics together for different artists and bands at the time. Gerry who is Carole’s husband drifts away and has several affairs as he resents living a domestic life they eventually divorce. The story progresses into Carole moving finding her confidence and inner strength to perform her own music live, launching a solo career with her debut album Tapestry, which won four Grammys and has sold millions of copies worldwide.
The storyline was heart-warming story, but nothing dramatic. What sets this production apart are the performances which are outstanding and the songs are incredibly performed. I thought that the vocals were brilliant but for me the standout performances were by the shows leads.
Bronte Barbe has amazing vocals and stage presence. She has many theatre credits and was also a finalist in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Over the Rainbow’ on the BBC. Gerry Goffin played by Kane Oliver Parry was previously in ‘ We will Rock you.’ and ‘ Urinetown’ always had me looking forward to when he would come on stage. The roles of Carole’s best friends Cynthia Weil (played by Amy Ellen Richardson) and Barry Mann (Matthew Gonsalves) were also very well executed with strong vocals.
I never realized how many songs Carol King was behind- 30 hit songs from the 60s and 70’s and many for famous artists. While I was not a part of this era I still recognized almost all of the songs which made the performance so much more enjoyable. Some of these hits include such hits included ‘ The Locomotion’ originally performed by Little Eva and later remade by Kylie Minogue, ‘ Take good care of my baby’ performed by Bobby Vee and ‘ You’ve
Lost that Loving Feeling’ performed by the righteous brothers. Classic songs included ‘ You make me feel (Like a natural women), You’ve got a friend and It might as well rain until September.
I loved the diversity of the cast and the costumes, while not elaborate were pretty and very reminiscent of the time. I loved how songs were cleverly weaved in to tell the story seamlessly. I found this musical to be quite empowering with an important message that even in complete despair, one can rise from the ashes and that makes you beautiful.
All in all, this was a great musical with outstanding cast performances, musical excellence and a great story. I highly recommend this production at the New Wimbledon theatre which is charming in itself and very accessible.
If you’re down and troubled and needing a helping hand do not miss the opportunity to see Beautiful at the New Wimbledon theatre.