Reviewed by Amy Adeliyi
Although I had obviously heard of Carole King, my knowledge of her musical range and number of hits she had written was lacking. Beautiful – The Carole King Musical gave a wonderful, often humorous, insight into how her songs were developed and the drive to finally ‘write girl songs, sang by a girl’ that she would perform herself.
The theatre production highlights the key moments that defined her music from the 1950’s onwards. We were wowed by fantastic renditions from singers and bands including the Righteous Brothers and The Drifters, interspersed with the back story to many lyrical compositions of hugely popular hits. The close relationship with fellow lyricists/composers Cynthia Well (Amy Ellen Richardson) and Barry Mann (Matthew Gonsalves) was beautifully played out with the later scenes showing the admiration and respect for her album ‘Tapestry’.
Notably the one-liners delivered by her mother Genie Klein (Carol Royale) showed a harder but comedic side to the life story and developed the character relationships further, with the often sad and conflicting relationship with her first husband Gerry Goffin (Kane Oliver Parry).
The many songs performed had the packed theatre tapping and (a few) singing away, with lively performers and softer mellow sounds. Carole opened the show with a soft rendition of ‘so far away’ and later showed her range with a showstopper performance of ‘A natural woman’.
The set was designed well, flowing from scene to scene with moving pianos and theatre/singing factory backgrounds. The speed of costume changes was also very impressive, with dresses seemingly changing right on stage.
The show ended with a rendition of ‘Beautiful’ and a standing ovation for Carole King (Bronte Barbe) and encore involving the whole cast.
The theatre itself is clean and the interior looked well maintained, although due for refurbishment in 2018. The theatre was well staffed with plenty of helpful friendly ushers, directing theatre goers to purchasing a variety of drinks and refreshment in the interval.
The Mayflower Theatre is close to rail links and we found a multi-story car park close by, I would encourage visitors to check for any local events such as football matches as the traffic coming into Southampton can be extremely busy at these times. Also to be prepared for longer waits as you leave Southampton due to mass exodus from local carparks after the show.
I would definitely return to see the show again, giving a 5* for the beautiful songs and energy of the cast.
Tickets cost from £23.50 to £48.50 (booking fees may apply).
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical is at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton from 26-30 September 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.mayflower.org.uk or call the box office on 02380 711811.
Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811