Beautiful opened on Broadway just over a year ago and has quickly made the transition to the West End. As a theatre fan and a Carole King fan, I knew this show could be something very special… and I was correct!
The musical tells the story of Carole King from school girl through to recording the iconic album, Tapestry. But not only does it focus on her, but her husband and songwriting partner, Gerry Goffin, as well as their friends and writing rivals Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. The show is at times song driven (though these are woven into the story nicely) with Douglas McGrath’s book providing fairly fast moving and often comic links between musical numbers, although there are some wonderful scenes of pure drama where a musical number is far from needed.
Marc Bruni’s direction is sharp and keeps the show flowing from scene to scene and Josh Prince’s choreography is slick, precise and full of energy. Derek McLane’s set is bold yet very simple and it is its simplicity that allows Bruni to create this constantly moving show that leaps time periods fairly regularly.
Matt Smith and his band produce a gorgeous sound from the pit of the Aldwych Theatre and Smith has the ensemble harmonies tight. The ensemble themselves, who also play many minor characters, are full of energy and support the leads well. Alan Morrissey, Lorna Want and Ian McIntosh (Gerry Goffin, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann respectively) are all strong singers but also have wonderfully formed characters at their heart. They all have stand-out moments in the show, both musically and dramatically.
However the real driving force and star of this show is the wonder that is Katie Brayben as Carole King. From start to finish you watch her character grow and develop from school girl to ‘natural woman’ and it is a pleasure to watch. Her portrayal of Carole King is truthful and engaging. When she’s on stage you can’t take your eyes off her and the rest of the audience seemed to agree as they all rose to their feet as she walked on to take her bow.
Although this is a jukebox musical, it feels different. It is much more like a Jersey Boys than other jukeboxes in the sense that it is as much plot driven as it is music. Katie Brayben is a raw talent and she is what makes this show truly beautiful.
Review by Elliott Wallis
Beautiful The Carole King Musical
Katie Brayben – Carole King, Alan Morrissey – Gerry Goffin, Lorna Want – Cynthia Weil, Ian McIntosh – Barry Mann, Glynis Barber – Genie Klein, Gary Trainor – Don Kirshner, Vivien Carter – Ensemble, Ed Currie – Ensemble, Oliver Lidert – Ensembe, Fela Lufadeju – Ensembe, Tanya Nicole-Edwards – Ensemble, Terel Nugent – Ensemble, Jay Perry – Ensembe, Tanisha L Spring – Ensemble, Danielle Steers – Ensemble, Lucy St. Louise – Ensemble, Dylan Turner – Ensemble, Joanna Woodward – Ensemble, Andy Coxon – Swing, Jason Denton – Swing, Michael Anthony Duke – Swing, Joel Harper-Jackson – Swing, Rosie Heath – Swing, Aisha Jawando – Swing, Hannah Jay-Allan – Swing, Leigh Lothian – Swing
Katie Brayben plays the lead role in the West End production of Beautiful The Carole King Musical. Alan Morrissey plays King’s husband and song-writing partner Gerry Goffin, with Lorna Want as song-writer Cynthia Weil, Glynis Barber as Genie Klein, King’s mother, and Gary Trainor as music publisher and producer Don Kirshner.
View Opening Night Photographs:
Tickets currently booking to 25th June 2015
Evenings: Monday – Saturday 7.30pm
Matinees: Thursday and Saturday matinees 2.30pm
Thursday 26th February 2015