Beautiful is a musical written by Douglas McGrath, with music from Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann.
The musical tells the story of two songwriting power-couples, Carole King and Gerry Goffin (writers of ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’, ‘The Locomotion’ and ‘Up On the Roof’) and Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann (writers of ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’, ‘On Broadway’ and ‘He’s Sure The Boy I Love’). Their friendly competition saw them pushing themselves, bending the rules of music at the time and achieving great things, and this musical follows their journeys in music and their romantic relationships.
Carole King is played by Cassidy Janson (Dessa Rose, Avenue Q, Wicked). King is painted as a shy, mellow character who cherishes the simple things in life. Janson excels in the role with brilliant vocals and piano skills. She gives a particularly lovely performance of ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’.
Matthew Seadon-Young (Billy Elliot, Urinetown, Sweeney Todd) was excellent in the role of Gerry Goffin, portraying his many stress-induced mental struggles, including a nervous breakdown, and his unfaithfulness to King. Seadon-Young gives a great performance of ‘Take Good Care of My Baby’, a duet performed with Janson.
Lorna Want (Footloose, Evita, Dreamboats and Petticoats) gave a standout performance as Cynthia Weil. Want is sensational in the role as the zany, charming lyricist and her first appearance with ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ is a highlight of the show.
Ian McIntosh (The Commitments, Rock of Ages, Hair) gave an outstanding performance as the eccentric, hyper-paranoid musician Barry Mann, and a great rendition of ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’. The chemistry between Want and McIntosh is electric and their duet of ‘Walking In The Rain’ is wonderful.
The rendition of ‘You Got A Friend’ is a particularly tender moment in the show when, following the break-up of her marriage, King decides to move to LA leaving behind her friends. The closing number ‘Beautiful’ and ‘I Felt The Earth Move’ brings the show in a loop, starting and ending with King alone with her piano.
Beautiful is a gentle, uplifting and easy-going musical, with amazing songs from both couples. It is of course “The Carole King Musical”, but often the King character takes a backseat to the crazier, more magnetic and charismatic personality of Weil, whose character and choices seem more relatable to most women now than King’s. A lot of the highlights of the show are also songs by Weil and Mann rather than King and Goffin. Nevertheless, it is a very enjoyable production with an excellent score.
Beautiful: the Carole King Musical is showing at the Aldwych Theatre and is currently booking until 22nd July 2017 (to book tickets, click here) and will be embarking on a UK tour from September 2017. For more information on your visit to the Aldwych Theatre, click here.