Beautiful is a show I knew almost nothing about, I hadn’t even heard of Carole King by name. The extent of my knowledge was a few Google searches, the official description of the musical and knowing I’d seen posters plastered across London. Then I got offered to review it, so as I enjoy seeing any new theatre production, I thought, “why not” and made my way to London on a wet Wednesday.
As I knew so little, I felt sceptical as to whether I would like it, but I didn’t want to judge until I had seen it, and I was glad I didn’t because I was surprised to find I really enjoyed it and even knew a few of the songs!
The story was biographical of the trials and tribulations of singer-songwriter Carole King’s life, and her relationship with her husband/writing-partner, friends/fellow writers and family. This made for a gripping story of love, drama and dreams. You may assume that you need to be a fan of her, but I didn’t feel this was the case, as you would only need to be a fan of musical-based stories. If you are open to many genres of music and enjoy learning it’s evolution and origins, as King's music spans many decades from the 1950s onwards, this is a must-see musical.
Beautiful - The Carole King Musical had somewhat simpler than other West End shows, but I loved it. It fit the era perfectly and I found it fascinating that the simple change of coloured lights transported you to different locations and moods, and small movements within the sets kept your attention. That’s one of my favourite things about theatre.
Equally, the costumes were incredible. I love the 60s fashion anyway, and they nailed it. They even had on-stage costume changes that happened so quickly you could hardly notice, and that is a trick that always amazes me.
The cast and characters were, as you would expect, brilliant. My personal favourite was the character of Cynthia Weil (portrayed by Lorna Want) but the entire cast were great and actually rather small. Initially I was unsure on some of the American accents, but as the show went on you adjusted to them. I found that some of the jokes received hit and miss reactions as to whether the entire audience laughed. I also noticed that one of the men in the four-piece groups was ever so slightly out of time with the rest of the guys. Despite those minor flaws, I was very impressed by their talents.
Finally, the music in Beautiful makes the perfect sing/dance along to yourself in your seat if you know it, but if like me you don’t know that much but you love a variety of music and theatre, I can’t see why you wouldn’t like it. I even got mildly emotional in the “You’ve Got A Friend” number, as the words came across so powerfully.
Overall, although I was in the younger segment of the audience, I think it’s perfect for families, a mother-daughter day out (like mine was, and my mum was of the age to enjoy all of these hits) or anyone who loves and appreciates music. I would sum-up the show as fun and heart-warming. You’d be surprised to find that one woman has created so many hits.
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