Lyric Theatre, Sydney, Australia – until 23 December 2017
Guest reviewers: Amy and Vic
The night started with two twenty-something girls who had no clue who Carole King was (don’t judge us!) and ended up with two brand new super fans, striding out of the theatre arm in arm, belting ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ and wistfully longing we could transport back to 1960s Brooklyn.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is a Grammy-winning musical which debuted in Sydney, Australia this week with a local cast after first dazzling Broadway in 2014. The show is a musical biography based on the early life of Carole King, whose music has been referred to as “the soundtrack of a generation” – admittedly not our generation but boy do we wish it was!
Pyrmont’s Lyric Theatre in Sydney was buzzing with Carole King devotees young and old, excited to take a trip down memory lane in joyous celebration of one of the world’s greatest songwriters. It made the evening all the more sentimental, imagining our parents hippy clapping away, bellbottoms swinging to ‘Locomotion’.
From the opening scene and throughout, Esther Hannaford’s Carole was an incredibly loveable and endearing character who engaged the audience with her humility, kindness and gentle humour. Despite her immense success and undeniable creative genius, Carole’s personal life was tumultuous and peppered with periods of romance and heartache. The tapestry of classic pop and rock and roll music was powerfully nostalgic, and it there was a sense of magic in watching the song writing process and hearing the contrast between the writers demos and popular pop reinventions (including, The Shirelles, The Drifters, The Righteous Brothers and Neil Sedaka).
Beautiful predominantly focusses on the relationship between Carole and her first husband, Gerry Goffin, famed lyricist and long-time collaborator. Josh Piterman provided a compelling portrayal of Gerry’s raw strife and passion and there was a genuine chemistry between our leading couple. The relationship between Carole and Gerry and their friendly rivals, fellow singer/songwriter duo Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann provided some belly laugh moments and showcased some of their own classic hits including “You’ve Lost That l Lovin’ Feeling” and “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”.
The entire production was beautifully staged and the cast were uniformly superb. Beautiful was a magical, moving, musical feat and the perfect night to delight across the generations. We couldn’t have told you who Carole King was before this show, turns out we’ve been a fan of her work for years – Oh! Carol, we love you.