Talking Theatre: Bronté Barbé Discusses Beautiful - The Carole King Story - Part 2

Talking Theatre: Bronté Barbé Discusses Beautiful - The Carole King Story - Part 2

Beautiful-The Carole King Story reaches the end of its UK tour run when it plays Bristol Hippodrome this April. Playing Carole King will be Bronté Barbé, a finalist in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s BBC1 television series “Over the Rainbow” in 2010. Since then she has appeared on stage in both London’s West End and around the UK. Previous credits include “Cool Rider” in the West End and ‘Princess Fiona’ in the UK Tour of “Shrek -The Musical”. 

In the second part of our interview with Bronté, the actress discusses, favourite numbers, life on the road and off-stage rituals.

The Company of Beautiful, the Carole King Musical, coming to Bristol Hippodrome during April, 2018 . Photo by Craig Sugden

The Company of Beautiful, the Carole King Musical, coming to Bristol Hippodrome during April, 2018 . Photo by Craig Sugden

Beautiful follow’s Carole King’s story across a number of years in the early part of her long career, what is it like to portray a character through so many moments throughout their life? 

There’s so much depth to it you know, as she’s a real person. We meet her in the show at age 16 and go up to 29 and it’s been interesting because you want to be bouncy and young at the start but you don’t want to be playing her as a stereotypical teenager.

Physically it can be a bit of a challenge as you have to grow and mature in your performance each night, but you have 2-hours to do it. It’s a lot in the body, and in the voice to give her that maturity. I’m almost at the age she is at the end of the show, and as you grow older your voice changes but also the weight of what was going on in her life at the time affects you in so many different ways so I try to bear that in mind in my performance. 

Do you have a favourite number to perform?

I do. Beautiful, I love it so much it’s my absolute favourite. Even if I’m really tired I get to Beautiful and I’m filled with energy again. I love the way it’s set and orchestrated with the band and then building the backing vocals. It’s such an empowering moment on stage and you can’t beat it. I feel like a bit of a rock star! I think sometimes it can take the audience by surprise as a lot of people might not know it as well as some of her other songs, but the lyrics are so great and it is so uplifting I can see almost an intake of breath and people instantly warm to it.

Grant McCovney and Ben Morris take to the stage as The Righteous Brothers in Beautiful - The Carole King Musical, coming to Bristol Hippodrome in April, 2018 Photo by Craig Sugden

Grant McCovney and Ben Morris take to the stage as The Righteous Brothers in Beautiful - The Carole King Musical, coming to Bristol Hippodrome in April, 2018 Photo by Craig Sugden

What is life on the road like? Is there one thing you absolutely couldn’t be without? 

My favourite thing in the world is Lush so every town or city we visit I find a Lush because it makes me feel very calm. Most of the time I try and tour with my little dog so that helps. Lots of little things like putting pictures up in my dressing room and having a certain type of tea before the show help me to feel calm and ready to perform. We aren’t in each venue for long but it’s nice to feel a little bit settled. 

Do you have any particular rituals for pre or post-show? 

I just drink tons and tons of water. I always have an interval orange as well like a football match. I always have one, as it’s so good for energy and no matter how I’m feeling I just feel great after an interval orange, it’s very helpful. 

Do you have a dream role that you’d love to take on?

This is absolutely a dream role, being able to play Carole King every night and sing her songs. I would also quite like to be in a period drama.  I love to play inspiring women and there aren’t that many fully female led shows out there so playing Carole King is wonderful. 

Bronte Barbe 'Carole King'.in Beautiful - The Carole King Musical coming to Bristol Hippodrome during April 2018. Photo by Craig Sugden

Bronte Barbe 'Carole King'.in Beautiful - The Carole King Musical coming to Bristol Hippodrome during April 2018. Photo by Craig Sugden

Carole King is an icon of the singer songwriter world and an idol to many. Do you have any idols that you look up to?

Oh yeah totally. I would probably say Julie Walters and Victoria Wood. My idols are lots of female comedy geniuses. However, playing Carole King every night is great, she’s definitely iconic! 

The tour stops in Bristol, does this venue have any significance for you?

We have some family friends in Bristol who it will be lovely to see, and I also love Bath so I’m definitely going to visit Bath if I can whilst we are there.  

  • Beautiful – The Carole King Story plays Bristol Hippodrome from April 3 – April 7. For times and availability visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/bristol-hippodrome
  • Review of Beautiful - The Carole King Story
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