Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (West End) Review
Cassidy Janson – Carole King
Alan Morrissey – Gerry Goffin
Lorna Want – Cynthia Well
Ian McIntosh – Barry Mann
Diane Keen – Genie Klein
Joseph Prouse – Donnie Kirshner
Venue: Aldwych Theatre, London
Date: Thursday 6th October 2016 (2:30pm)
Carole King is a much loved singer/songwriter who started out her success by composing music and working with Gerry Goffin who was also her first love and husband. Starting out at 16 by selling her first song and being married and pregnant by 17 is not what you would expect from one of the most successful women ever in music.
I did not know well anything about her backstory so heading into the musical blind in that sense made for a great journey across the two acts. The first act had more focus on her relationship with Gerry and the writing of songs, trying to get that first number one then sustaining that pattern with more songs. Whilst competing with close friends Cynthia and Barry, which certainly makes for some entertainment. Showing the different artists who had amazing successful with the songs from Carole and Gerry, pretty incredible really. You will know every song already, something I was pretty surprised with my lack of writer/composer knowledge for the music industry shown with that.
If this show tells you one thing about the writing and composing of songs its that when you are at your toughest times you will unearth something magical. As the first act goes on with the many happy go lucky songs, the relationship between Carole and Gerry is not going well at all. He has quite a temper on him and mood swings, while she will do whatever it takes to keep him and have a family. Must have been very tough to work and live with the same person, constantly being together which eventually drives them apart.
Cassidy Janson was outstanding, what an incredible performance from start to finish. Throughout act one starting out as the young teenager full of life and then the struggle of the relationship, a great range of acting and we get a glimpse of her very impressive vocals. But the best is yet to come with that in the second act and her rendition of Natural Woman is something else, I could feel myself welling up. Especially with all of the emotions flying by that time.
Act two takes a slightly different approach into how Carole must start to think about herself, what she wants and ultimately what will actually be a better life. This is what will eventually lead to her writing her own lyrics for her music and having to actually perform herself due to how personal each and every song is on what is Tapestry. To get to that point we must face the turbulent relationship which she tried to hard to fix, they did get married so young don’t forget.
The piano was obviously a huge part of the production, as a huge part of her story. So it is constantly on stage, moved around in different positions and places for different scenes. Something which I thought worked very well and really helped to clarify how important it is, great to see it being played constantly by different actors.
Diane Keen as her mother gives us the main offer of comic relief and in her small appearances really does manage to steal the scenes, I think that also helps to show that her mother was a big impact on her career even if it was not something she wanted her to do initially. She always had her support and witty remarks to fall back on.
The friendship with Cynthia and Barry was worked in with good pace and they both had there own hits as well, which were worked into the show very nicely as well. We get an overload of great songs, what else would you expect from a Jukebox Musical? I am very pleased that I managed to get a ticket to catch this show. I actually hope it is a show that when finishing in the West End embarks on a UK Tour as I am sure it would be very popular across the UK.
I just need to mention how truly fabulous Cassidy Janson was once again, she gives it her all in this role and it was a pleasure to watch. Supported by a very strong cast and ensemble. You cannot help but feel good with the vast catalogue of hit after hit song! I have seen checked on Carole King’s history and I must say I am very impressed that the story in the show is very close, with only a couple of changes to make it all flow together. I will now certainly get myself lost in her music and really appreciate such an incredible talent.