Touring – reviewed at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking
The New Victoria theatre was abuzz as an excited audience took their seats to take a trip down memory lane with the sentimental songs of the 60s. I must admit when I sat down I wasn’t really a Carole King fan, having never really been exposed to her music, but two and a bit hours later I was well and truly a lover of all things Carole and have been playing Tapestry on repeat all morning.
Beautiful opens with King (played expertly by Bronté Barbé) sitting alone on stage behind a piano and singing her heart out to a packed audience at Carnegie Hall. Suddenly the piano moves out of view and we are thrown into a Brooklyn
apartment where a 16-year-old Carole with big dreams and songs to sell arrives on stage.
From here we follow King through the ups and downs of her life, from the energetic teen to mother, wife, divorcee and Grammy Award winner. From the opening scene to the very end, Bronté’s King is endearing, humorous and engaged with the audience. Her incredible voice, acting and spot-on accent hold the show up and our hearts really ache whenever Carole experiences a setback.
The show mainly focuses on the relationship between Carole and her husband/lyricist, Gerry Goffin. Played by Kane Oliver Parry, the character is raw and passionate and the chemistry between the pair is compelling to watch. Alongside we see their best friends and writing rivals, Cynthia Weil (Amy Ellen Richardson) and Barry Mann (Matthew Gonsalves) who are comedic as well as being fantastic singers. The rendition of their hit ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’ was a standout as well as a clear audience favourite.
Beautiful cleverly transitions from the song-writing to the actual performance with the artists appearing to perform the songs as soon as the final chords and lyrics were written. These moments were humourous as well as being genuinely good and allowed the audience to revel in the delightful music by the likes of The Drifters and The Shirelles.
This production is indeed Beautiful and the perfectly moving, magical, sentimental way to spend a few hours. Myself, my mum and those around us found ourselves smiling throughout, just proving that this show has what it takes to enrapture audiences of all generations. The talent of Carole King is undeniable and I can’t help but think that no 2000s artist will stand the test of time to have a musical made about them in the future! Whether you think you’re a fan of Carole or not, you’re sure to recognise many of the hits and leave feeling elated, with a new sense of love and appreciation for the songwriting industry.