17 May 2015
Reviewed by Debbie Lowndes
The Carpenters are a duo consisting of brother and sister, Richard and Karen Carpenter. They were one of the biggest bands of the 1970’s, having no less than 10 records selling one million copies during their career. Their songs, which were well crafted and included Richard Carpenter’s distinctive arrangements. This genre of music formed a tranquil haven from the mainly predominant rock music of that era. The pair produced massive hits and were still producing them up to the time of Karen’s tragic and untimely death in February 1983 from the effects of anorexia.
The story is not a biographical musical play but takes on the format of a concert, featuring most of The Carpenters’ biggest hits, such as Top of the World, Ticket to Ride, Please Mr Postman etc… Claire Furley, the main vocalist, does have a very pleasant voice and at times did have the sound of Karen Carpenter. However, Karen Carpenter did have a very unique voice which was of a perfect pitch. To be fair Karen’s style and emotion would be difficult to match, but Furley did do the star justice. Furley’s voice was pleasant and I felt she found it difficult to portray the emotion inputted by Karen Carpenters’. This is understandable as each song had a personal meaning to Karen. Furley herself stated, Carpenter had the ability to convey every smile and heartache in her voice.
On stage Claire Furley was accompanied by a few musicians, playing the piano, guitar, violin, drums, flute, saxophone, triangle, recorder, clarinet and the tambourine. The orchestra played the instruments well. I have to say the star of the show for me was definitely the saxophone player, he was outstanding.
The stage backdrop from the show was projected images of record covers, pictures, scenes appropriate to the song. Radio broadcasts were also used to tell The Carpenters’ Story. I found the lighting a little disappointing.
Everyone on stage was suitably dressed for the relevant era and the outfits wore by Claire were of a Carpenter style.
The audience was in high attendance and they did join in with the songs and there was a general feel good factor throughout the show which reminded everyone of The Carpenters’ vast catalogue of music and the legacy left by their creative genius.
The show was captivating, however, I did feel it could have told more of a story, I felt it to be more like a Carpenter musical. Having said that I did really enjoy the evening and the music was very well played and sang. I do not think any audience member was disappointment by the high standard of talented musicians. I would recommend see this story as it does provide an insight The Carpenter’s and their music.
Buxton Theatre was a great venue for the show. It is very pleasantly decorated with magnificent architecture. The toilets were well signed, very clean and well stocked. There is an old fashioned feel to the theatre. There are a couple of bars for refreshments, these can either be taken advantage of before the show or during the interval. Refreshments such as ice creams were sold in the entrance area at the interval.
At the end of the show memorabilia was on sale, this was reasonably priced and service levels for this was good.
All of the staff encountered during my visit to Buxton were courteous, professional and helpful.
I would recommend this show to my family and friends. I was slightly disappointed if I am honest as I thought more of The Carpenters’ Story would have given a better picture of Karen’s and Richard’s life.
The Carpenters Story is currently on tour around the UK, for more information or to book tickets at a venue near your visit www.facebook.com/TheCarpentersStory.
For other shows at Buxton Opera House visit www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk.
Buxton Opera House, Water Street, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6XN | 0845 127 2190