“Wake up and put a smile on your face!“
In Beautiful, the Carole King Musical, the story highlights the importance of having a dream and following it through. Carole believed in her music and writing and eventually she was able to sing her own songs about her life.
It made me want to rush out and buy CDs or download her Tapestry album to listen to it, as I didn’t know much about Carole King’s life, apart from the fact that she wrote “You’ve got a Friend” which was a big hit for James Taylor. Although I have always loved her music, I didn’t know she was such a prolific song writer.
Jemma McCulloch was superb as Carole King – great voice, great acting and piano playing. Maya Millar did a fantastic job as Cynthia Weil. Trevor Anderson was fabulous as Gerry Griffin. Joshua Kerr as Barry Mann was a bit flat at times, but his acting was good. The other singers were excellent too, particularly Louisa Villine as Janelle Woods, Alisa James as Little Eva and Carly Meakin the ‘Uptown singer’. I also enjoyed the Shirelles, Drifters and Righteous Brothers songs and synchronised dances.
Choreography by Shenayde Wilkinson-Sarti was wonderful, and all the dancers and singers seemed to enjoy dancing the iconic dances to their songs, especially Locomotion.
Stunning colourful costumes, wigs and hairstyles by Louise Watkins set the scene for a performance beautifully told by all the cast, crew and musicians.
Peter John’s Musical Direction was very important and well managed – the sound was terrific. All the actors who played the piano, particularly Jemma, were so realistic, we couldn’t tell if it was a real piano or not!
Using two separate sides of the stage and the higher stage at the back with the musicians sometimes shown, sometimes playing invisibly, was a clever way to show the action simultaneously and seamlessly. Bravo for stage setting David Gauci! Also the 1960s and ‘70s colours and props were appropriate to the eras.
Tim Bates’ illumination was magnificent.
The audience especially loved the songs You’ve got a Friend, A Natural Woman, Uptown, I feel the Earth Move and of course the title song Beautiful. It was great to hear lots of Carole King songs created for the album Tapestry which was finally performed at Carniege Hall as the pinnacle of her career.
Well done Davine Productions, cast and crew! I recommend you go and see this, if it’s not already booked out!