Theatre / Review

Review: Beautiful, Hippodrome

By roanna davidson, Thursday Feb 27, 2020

Beautiful: the Carole King Musical describes itself as a jukebox musical, and is very much a love song to Carole herself.

The show was first staged in San Francisco in 2013 and since has toured the US, UK and Australia – and made permanent homes in both Broadway and the West End.

It’s certainly a well-stocked jukebox. As the show unfolds you realise just how many well-loved hits from the 1960s and 70s were penned by King and her husband and writing partner Gerry Goffin. The Drifters, The Shirelles, Bobby Vee, Little Eva and Aretha Franklin are some of the artists you’ll recognise within the 26 musical numbers.

R&B / soul kings The Drifters as seen in ‘Beautiful’. All pics: Helen Maybanks

With such a prolific songbook, it’s easy to see why this musical has had so much success. It doesn’t over-complicate with its narrative, while the strong ensemble deliver the story with celebratory energy and pace – while maintaining a certain innocence.

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The window into Carole as a gentle soul with her heart on her sleeve is endearing. Portrayed as an all-American gal who remains humble in the light of her great success, the show leaves the songs unblemished in our memory. This musical understands its audience and is respectful of our sentimental attachment to the hits of the era.

Daisy Wood-Davis’ performance as Carole is sensitive and generous, and her joyous relationship with music is obvious as she hops on the piano, embodying Carole at the keys. The other standout performance comes from Carly Cook, standing in as song-writing rival and friend Cynthia Weil.

Daisy Wood-Davis as Carole King in ‘Beautiful’

In a time where we often seek instant gratification with a ‘like’ or to convey a message in 140 characters, the Carole King story is a reminder that great artists work hard to hone their craft and retain modesty to their art.

A slick, feelgood production that had the auditorium humming along throughout.

Beautiful: the Carole King Musical continues at Bristol Hippodrome until Sat, Feb 29. For more info and to book tickets, visit www.atgtickets.com/shows/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical/bristol-hippodrome

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