Beautiful Tour at The Orchard Theatre
Guest reviewer Elle Janus takes a look at the current Beautiful tour:
Beautiful Tour at The Orchard Theatre
Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit song-writing team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history.
I was lucky enough to see this wonderful musical in the West End, and I was thrilled to get a chance to review the touring production, as it is a (excuse the pun) beautiful story and musical. No big drama, nothing flashy, just one woman’s story of how she had a dream, worked hard and made her way in what was at the time a very male dominated industry. The twists and turns that her journey took, but also sadly getting her heart broken along the way.
The staging, set and lighting was exactly the same as the west end production. Nice smooth scene and set transitions all gave a feel for the era of the 60’s. The band did start a little loud and for the first few songs I did find it hard to hear the lead vocalist, but that slowly got rectified as the show progressed.
Bronté Barbé plays Carole King, she has the optimism and great energy of the dreamer King was at 16 years old and we hear the emotion and truth in the songs she delivers. I felt the show really started for me during the song ‘Some kind of Wonderful.’ There is a smile that you hear in her singing voice that one can only recognise if they have felt that overwhelming happiness you get from falling in love, she very much connected with me and is a joy as the lead in this production.
Kane Oliver Parry plays Carole’s husband Gerry Goffin, his voice is delicious and very fitting for the time. He makes you melt when he sings and you can understand why any woman would fall for the sweet words of this man. Thank goodness for Amy Ellen Richardson, playing Cynthia Weil as she came on and injected the energy we needed into the show, up to this point I felt the only one really giving 100% on stage was Barbé. With great comic timing and a confident well rounded character she really helps push the fact that regardless of the time, these women can do anything a man can do, and then some!
Carol Role as the best friend to Carole; Genie Klein nails the supporting role and relishes the humour and fun to be had with this character. Adam Howden does a great job as Donnie Krishner, he is powerful but does well not to weald it like a weapon, and comes across as likeable. Matthew Gonsalves plays the songwriter ‘rival’ Barry Mann with great effect. He plays the ambitious side of him without making him over wrought with jealousy so you can easily understand the friendship that the four main players share.
The ensemble are amazing at becoming many of the great iconic groups we know from back then, I particularly enjoy the cheorgraphy for The Shirelle’s and The Drifter’s there was a fabulous quick costume change for The Shirelle’s which made you feel like you were seeing them live.
Although I felt that the scenes at times lacked energy and drive, the music and singing was stunning. Some of the choreography was not as on point as others, but again the overall show was nice. I understand this was the first night in this theatre so there has probably been a long day of technical rehearsal among other things, but you can always tell when a performance is flat and lacking energy. Unfortunately this performance did, apart from a few exceptions. I don’t know if the production has been touring for long, but when you have a full house, that has sat patiently and waited for 20 minutes for the show(as well as having paid their money), performers please give them 100% of your energy.
Beautiful would be a lovely evening out to the theatre and it will surprise you how many wonderful songs King had a hand in creating.
As a side note the house was completely full, with a lot of Carole King fans but also younger generations which was nice to see. I was sat far right in the circle which meant that sadly half of the stage was blocked completely from my view. Next to half of the action of the performance took part in this section of the stage, so that was frustrating. This may therefore be something to be aware of when booking for this show. The show was due to start at 7.30pm, but the curtain did not go up until nearly 20 minutes later. I am not aware as to what the issue was but to have a full house sat in what quickly became a hot and stuffy theatre was not pleasant. All of these negative points are not against the production itself but more the theatre, and did take something away from my experience, but the production itself was glorious.
Review by Elle Janus.
To find out more about the tour visit their website.