On 9th February 1942, Carole King is born Carole Joan Klein in Brooklyn, New York. With a career that’s seen more than 400 of her compositions recorded by over 1000 artists, 100 hit singles and six Grammys, those unfamiliar with the name (shame on you), will definitely recognise the classic songs (co-written with her musician husband Gerry Goffin); ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow?’ ‘The Loco-Motion’ and ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,’ to name just a few.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, opens and closes on King’s famed 1971 Carnegie Hall concert. Douglas McGrath’s libretto comes full circle, charting King’s rise to fame, her tumultuous marriage to Goffin, and her life-long friendship with fellow songwriters, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Alternating between the backdrop of a recording studio and a quintessential suburban home, Derek McLane’s scenic design reflects King’s two passions in life: career and family. Akin to her many awards and accolades, Marc Bruni’s production is glittered in gold, with Peter Kaczorowski’s light designs providing a nostalgic trip throughout the 60’s and 70’s. Fans of Dreamboats and Petticoats will appreciate Steve Sidwell’s orchestrations of some of the most iconic artists of the period, with Alejo Vietti’s costume and Josh Prince’s choreography bringing back to life celebrated artists like The Drifters and The Shirelles.
Daisy Wood-Davis transforms into the acclaimed singer/songwriter, echoing King’s New York contralto tones and metamorphasising into the ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. With strong chemistry between all four of the leads; Wood-Davis, Adam Gillian, Laura Baldwin & Cameron Sharp, do a phenomenal job of portraying a rivalry and friendship that has continued throughout the ages. A story of self-discovery and reclamation, Beautiful is a salute to all women trying to juggle their career, family and sense of self. It’s refreshing to see strong, talented and smart female characters portrayed on stage (or as I like to call them, women), and Wood-Davis and Baldwin shine in their roles.
A few sound issues crop up in the ensemble pieces, and occasionally the storyline feels rushed and formulaic, however, overall McGrath has written a ‘beautiful’ ode to the most successful and influential female musicians of the 20th Century. A show for aficionados and novices alike.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tours until August 29th 2020.