Review: Beautiful the Carole King Musical at Manchester’s Palace Theatre
- Olivier Award winning show Beautiful: The Carole King Musical arrived in Manchester this week on it's first UK and Ireland tour
- Macclesfield-born Bronté Barbé taking on the lead role at the Palace Theatre
Growing up in Brooklyn, an ordinary girl having an extraordinary talent, Carole King fights her way into the record business as a teenager and sold her first hit, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, when she was just seventeen. A very successful career with her writing partner and husband Gerry Goffin over the years sees success, but nothing good ever lasts for long.
Telling the inspiring true story of King’s career and how she wrote the soundtrack to a generation, with countless classics such as You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman, 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 Locomotion.
Bronté Barbé takes on the challenging title role of Carole King, but she takes on the challenge and succeeds. Her goofy and loveable, slightly awkward character is well-received and loved by the audience. King’s journey and flourishing career, writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll from Aretha Franklin to The Monkees, The Drifters, to The Shirelles, is an interesting tale. Sadly it wasn’t until her personal life began to fall apart that she managed to find her voice and own sound. Barbé sings King’s songs wonderfully and also plays the piano live on stage very well.
Kane Oliver Parry portrays the troubled heart throb and husband Gerry as he tries to find himself while cheating and having multiple affairs whilst still married. Amy Ellen Richardson shines as the vibrant Cynthia Weil, with a funny and charismatic version of Happy Days are Here Again. With quick wit, and great chemistry with lover Barry Mann (Matthew Gonsalves) the duo entertain the audience with their relationship.
With an impressive set (Derek McLane), including two pianos and multiple instruments on stage, it takes us from the comfort of King’s living room to the bright lights that the stars are performing on. The costumes (designed by Alejo Vietti) were vibrant and colourful and the quick costume changes from rehearsal wear to glitzy dresses and smart suits for the boys.
The ensemble never stop, from playing the backing singers to King to being the stars themselves. It’s still impressive how many songs King wrote that you don’t even realise. Touching on all the genres of that era, from twist to Motown, the ensemble are stretched but execute Josh Prince’s choreography wonderfully.
A vibrant, energetic and beautiful music filled show that takes you back to the 60s and 70s.
Beautiful the Carole King Musical is playing at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until 6th January 2018.