Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre 
Reviewed on Tuesday 18th February 2020 by Olivia Mitchell 

Beautiful opens with music icon, Carole King sitting alone on stage at a piano, singing to a sold out audience at Carnegie Hall. In an instant the piano moves out of view and we are taken to a Brooklyn apartment where a 16 year old Carole, with songs sing sell and dreams to dream, arrives on stage.

It's from here that we follow King through the trials and tribulations of her life from the vivacious teen, to young mother, wife, divorcee and eventually solo Grammy Award winner. From the outset Daisy Wood-Davis is engaging and endearing; giving a performance as Carole which certainly blooms throughout the musical and ends on a high. Her unique Brooklyn accent is strong, and whilst her performance is not always completely convincing, Wood-Davis does a solid job at bringing the legend to life. 

What's impressive about this musical is how cleverly the scenes transition from the song-writing to the actual performances. The famous artists appear to perform the songs as the final lyrics and chords are written and highlight just how fast the music world moves. At times, some of the ensemble are a little lacklustre in their performances, but it's still nice to get a chance to hear the music of The Shirelles and The Drifters. 

Aside from the music, the show mainly focusses on the relationship between Carole and her husband/lyricist Gerry Goffin. Played by Adam Gillan, Gerry is equal parts endearing, fragile and gushy. His vocals are strong and the chemistry between the pair, especially in the young love phase at the start, is very enjoyable to watch. We also see writing rivals/best friends Cynthia Weil (Laura Baldwin) and Barry Mann (Cameron Sharp) who want to succeed in all aspects of their lives. The pair give great vocal performances and bounce off one another well.

Many aspects come together to make this such a wholesome and enjoyable musical, including the excellent set design by Derek McLane which seamlessly transforms the stage and provides a welcoming backdrop for every moment. Alejo Vietti's costumes are also highly detailed and it's great to see how fashions changed as well as the music. Also, giving standout performances are Susie Fenwick as Carole's witty New York mother; Jordan Fox who shines in his vocal moments and Carly Cook who draws the eye throughout and gives an excellently polished performance all round.

A sentimental musical which captures all generations and celebrates the talent and drive of Carole King, and showcases the music industry Beautiful is certainly worth the watch. 

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical plays at the New Victoria Theatre until 22 February and then continues its tour

photo credit: Helen Maybanks