Arriving at the Donald Gordon Theatre to see a Grand Piano on the stage we were more than excited to learn about the life of Carole King. In the stage show, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical.
The show opened with Carole King, played superbly by Bronté Barbé, performing at Carnegie Hall. The story then quickly flows back to a 16-year-old Carole about to travel to the big city to sell her first song.
The musical follows Carole’s story as she meets Gerry Goffin, her song writing partner, and quickly marries him and has a baby. As their relationship develops so does their song writing partnership and the story is interspersed with performances of their hits by the bands of the times: Up on the Roof and Some Kind of Wonderful by the The Drifters, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by the Shirelles and The Locomotion by Little Eva.
There are some moving scenes as their story moves on to show the break down in their relationship with Carole finally deciding to move to California for a new start and the performance of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by Bronté Barbé, Amy Ellen Richardson, Matthew Gonsalves and Adam Howden was very moving as she said goodbye to her friends.
Kane Oliver Parry is outstanding as he plays Gerry Goffin very sympathetically and even though he treats Carole badly, the emotion in the performance shows that Goffin’s mental health issues ultimately led to their divorce.
The new start for Carole included plans for her to record Tapestry, an album of songs inspired by her break up with Gerry as she felt she was the best person to record the album., something that singer/songwriter Adele would also do with 21 some decades later.
Running alongside Carole’s story was that of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann which was just as engaging. Amy Ellen Richardson and Matthew Gonsalves were perfect as the couple in competition with King and Goffin and the audience gave an audible sigh of excitement when Cynthia finally agreed to marry Barry.
Finally, a mention for the versatile cast who could change costumes in the blink of an eye as they would transform from supporting cast into the popular bands of the era as well as the crew who smoothly managed the numerous set changes throughout the show.
The show ended as it began with Carole performing Beautiful at the Carnegie Hall concert and I came away from the performance feeling like Carole was a person that I could relate to. The show ended with an uplifting encore, leaving me wanting to listen to more of her music and learn more about her life. A Beautiful insight into one of music’s all-time greats!