Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Adam Howden. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Adam Howden. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

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

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 22nd May 2018 by Becca Cromwell 

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is based on the life, trials and tribulations of singer-songwriter and Grammy Award winner Carole King. The story begins in 1950s Brooklyn, where a bright eyed and bushy tailed Carole goes to 1650 Broadway, New York City, to sell her song. Producer Don Kirshner buys the song, and offers her a contract. From there, she meets Gerry Goffin, her soon-to-be husband, and they collaborate on a song. Their collaboration brings them hit after hit and soon enough they are a successful musical duo, with Carole writing the melodies and Gerry writing the lyrics. Things are not always sunny however, as Gerry and Carole divorce and Carole goes on to release her album Tapestry, which won her Grammy awards and allowed her to play a sold out concert at the Carnegie Hall.

Bronté Barbé, gives an incredible performance and Carole. She captures Carole perfectly, from her mannerisms to the recognisable voice. Barbé astounds from the beginning, right through to the very end, giving a performance that must be extremely hard to match night after night.

Gerry Goffin played by Kane Oliver Parry, is a lovable character who makes some big mistakes. Kane plays him brilliantly with astounding vocals.  

Honorable mentions must go to Amy Ellen Richardson, Matthew Gonsalves and Adam Howden, who play Cynthia, Barry and Don respectively. These characters are some of the most important people in Carole’s story, and the portrayal of these characters is excellent. 

Throughout this particular performance, there were unfortunately periods where the singing could not be heard over the volume of the band, which means some of the hits including the Loco Motion and Will You Love Me Tomorrow were not as spectacular as I had hoped. However, the singing that we could hear was extremely good, with harmonies that were marvellous.

The quick changes performed by the ensemble cast are mind-blowing, leaving the audience gasping as they effortlessly switch costumes within seconds. 

The set, designed by Derek McLane, works well within the show. The simplicity of it and the continuous use of the piano allows the actors to truly transport us back to Brooklyn in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I particularly enjoyed the 1650 Broadway set, which served as various offices and performance rooms. 

The entire ensemble give fantastic performances and the show is thoroughly enjoyable. I had high expectations, all of which were met for a fun-filled night out at the theatre. 

Beautiful continues its UK tour into June, so grab your tickets for the final venues whilst you can!

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (UK Tour), Grand Opera House, Belfast | Review

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (UK Tour)
Grand Opera House, Belfast
Reviewed on Tuesday 24th October 2017 by Damien Murray

The major appeal of this extremely popular biographical musical is that its subject, Carole King, really is a cross-generational artist, performer, singer, songwriter … and her eventful – but not always successful or happy - life provided a human story that connects to many of its audience every bit as much as her commercial and popular songs.

As a jukebox musical, this show can’t fail to impress with a score composed of classic hit after classic hit from all periods of King’s phenomenal career as both a writer/co-writer and, eventually, as a performer.

While the bulk of the hits are from her younger days, this show is a particular crowd-pleaser for anyone born in the late 40s and early 60s, but – so commercial are the songs – it also manages to successfully cross the generations to engage even with the youth of today who may be hearing them for the first time.

However, there is a bit more depth to this musical than just the songs, as King’s story is that of a young and ambitious teenage girl, who never set out to be a singer and who was as surprised as everyone else by her own success.

According to music impresario, Donnie Kirshner – perfectly played by Adam Howden as a no-nonsense boss who knew the business and who demanded results– the key to her success as a writer was that she was a teen who wrote songs for teens and she was a girl who wrote songs for girls… and it was teen girls who were buying most records at that time.

Like a typical Brooklyn teen with no fear, King – played so well by understudy, Leigh Lothian, in the absence of Bronté Barbé (due to a family bereavement) – jumped head first into the competitive music game as a staff writer for Kirshner’s songwriting business, 1650 Broadway, where she met her perfect husband and co-writer, Gerry Goffin, plus life-long friends and fellow song-writing team, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, with each providing friendly rivalry measured in ‘hit’ scoring over one another. This, of course, was a great excuse to also feature many of this duo’s hit successes, too, including You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, Walking In The Rain and We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place.

In the lead role, Leigh Lothian, captured all of King’s emotions, moods, weaknesses and strengths, from being an ambitious and fearless teen, to coping with a teenage pregnancy, an unfaithful husband, her husband’s nervous breakdown and the eventual breakdown of her marriage, displaying strength, patience, forgiveness and loss of confidence before re-inventing herself as one of the world’s most successful female singers. 

Kane Oliver Parry, as Gerry Goffin, didn’t quite convince me that he was so troubled by his domestic and work pressures that they drove him into the arms of other women, but he displayed the kind of charm that the character must have had to keep King by his side for so long after his first affair and to be able to initiate so many affairs in the first place. I loved the chemistry between Amy Ellen Richardson’s pushy, confident and patient Cynthia Weil and Matthew Gonsalves’ Barry Mann; the impatient and always ailing hypochondriac.

This was a well-dressed production with authentic fashions of the day stretching right down to the girls sporting ‘Alice Bands’ on their heads, while the well-used, dual-level set helped to keep the pace fast with slick and quick scene changes.

The performance of the actual songs throws up some interesting observations – firstly, some are just parts of songs, and, due to the nature of the story about songwriters (as opposed to performers), some are raw or early rough examples of the finished and more polished hits that we have grown up to love.

So, although you will enjoy the story, don't expect to hear the songs as you would know them from the records as they are often performed ‘in context’ and do not always sound like the hits – I feel if you are pre-warned about this, then you won't be disappointed!

However, one small criticism/observation about this show was the overly exaggerated choreographic moves that could best be described as ‘dodgy dancing’ by ‘the Drifters’ These were greeted with laughter leaving me confused as to whether this was a comical send-up of the ‘dancing’ of the male vocal groups of the era or simply questionable choreography that didn’t get the desired result.

It was genius to stage a bio musical of this chart-topping music legend who penned material for the likes of Aretha Franklin, The Monkees, The Drifters and The Shirelles as this totally hit-filled show features many of those songs, including Take Good Care Of My Baby, You’ve Got A Friend, So Far Away, It Might As Well Rain Until September, Up On The Roof and The Locomotion with ‘character’ performances by The Drifters, The Shirelles, Little Eva, The Righteous Brothers and even a Neil Sedaka cameo appearance.

It is true, Carole King wrote songs that girls, and women, can relate to and the final two in this show – (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman and Beautiful – proved to be popular and inspirational anthems for the mostly female audience.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical runs at the Grand Opera House until October 28th before continuing its tour.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (UK Tour), Bristol Hippodrome | Review

Beautiful (UK Tour) 
Bristol Hippodrome
Reviewed on Wednesday 5th April 2018 by Isobelle Desbrow

Picture the scene, Carnegie Hall 1971. Carole King played by Bronté Barbé sitting at the piano not expecting this many people to be watching her before playing a short rendition of ‘So far Away’ before rewinding the story back 14 years to wear it all began.

We see the geeky, nervousness of Carole as she enters the offices of Donnie Kirshner played by Adam Howden. From the get go I’m unable to fault Bronté for her ability to sing and speak in the difficult Brooklyn accent, something which as the play progresses we see change and morph into the Carol King voice we know and love today.

Once back at school Carole meets the popular Gerry Goffin played by Kane Oliver Parry. They quickly become writing partners, lovers and then parents. You couldn’t fault either of them as they both show genuine affection for one another.
Fast forward to the arrival of the loud spoken Cynthia Weil who would not take no for an answer; loud and seductive, Amy Ellen Richardson plays her brilliantly and is a stand out of the show. Once she’d met the hypochondriac Barry Mann played by Matthew Gonsalves the pair become fascinatingly brilliant to watch.
The music of the era really shines through as they include such artists as The Drifters, Shirelles, Little Eva, Janelle and The Righteous Brothers. The ensemble do a fantastic job creating all the songs and making us feel as though we're transported back in time.
The standing ovation at the end really did do the cast justice; as they had given a performance to remember. Beautiful certainly deserves to be seen!
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical runs at the Bristol Hippodrome until April 7th.