Malvern Theatre – until Saturday 7th May 2022
Reviewed by Kathie Hodges
Grab your friends and head out for a night of joyous nostalgic music and a lot of toe tapping.
Molly-Grace Cutler brilliantly portrays the life of Carole King. The show begins at New Carnegie Hall with King reminiscing her life, as we are transported back to her sixteen year old self who desperately wants to share her gift of writing music with the world.
Soon she meets Gerry Goffin played by Tom Milner, Gerry is rather cool in Kings eyes and she struggles to believe it when he shows her romantic attention, but the two quickly fall in love, and become a rather special song writing team. King creating the music and Goffin a talented lyricist. Very soon they are writing hit after hit, all of which are performed by a huge array of stars who are holding the number one spot for weeks on end, to the delight of record mogul Donnie Kirshner played by Garry Robson who is always eager to find the next big hit.
He needn’t worry as between King and Goffin and the rather humorous Barry played by Jos Slovick and brassy Cynthia Weil played brilliantly by Seren Sandham-Davies he has some incredible talent working for him and though Barry and Cynthia should be their rivals the foursome become the very best of friends, though it doesn’t stop them competing for the number one spot.
I never realised just how many hits King and Goffin were responsible for, ‘Take Good Care of my Baby’. Remember that one? ‘Will You Still Love me Tomorrow’ they just keep coming.
Goffin and King met at such a young age, throw in an unplanned pregnancy, marriage, and much of their time and energy going into their work, the cracks in their relationship begin to show and King is heartbroken. Though they are smashing the hits Goffin is struggling immensely under the pressure and we leave act one wondering what will become of the relationship and what will be become of him.
The staging is simply created to shift between a juke box and a recording studio and micro minis and bell bottoms sell us the unmistakable 60’s fashion.
The entire cast are full of energy and talent, multitasking as musicians while acting, singing and dancing in many roles effortlessly.
Cutler however, is mesmerising as King, her flawless voice and piano playing held the audience captivated and though I think it’s safe to say we all loved the bubble gum pop of the first half, there was a huge wave of emotion when Cutler sat down to perform Kings first very own solo song for her friends ‘It’s Too Late’. This is one of those moments when you get goose bumps as you feel you are witnessing a pivotal moment in a persons life.
For all the magnificent hits King was involved in creating, this was all her own work. Shifting from writer to performer was the right move, her album Tapestry went on to be phenomenally successful, and the show ends where it opened, at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1971.
Expect flashing lights. Expect to want to sing out loud. Expect to to give a standing ovation.
I absolutely loved it.