BEAUTIFUL THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL
The Bristol Hippodrome
Tues 25th Feb – Sat 29th Feb 2020
This week, Beautiful, the Carole King Musical is showing at The Bristol Hippodrome, as part of a the official UK and Ireland tour. Carole King wrote the soundtrack to a generation. Her many classics include Take Good Care of My Baby and You’ve Got a Friend, as well as Tapestry, one of the best-selling albums of all time.
In this article, we give you a synopsis of Beautiful’s plot and share our highlights,. We give some age suitability guidance and offer you our verdict on whether we think this is a show to add to your must-see list this year! We also include a list of theatres Beautiful is due to be playing at so you can book tickets for dates up to August this year.
BEAUTIFUL THE MUSICAL – PLOT SYNOPSIS
BEAUTIFUL is based on a true story, following the early life of Carole King. At the start we see the gifted sixteen-year-old making her first attempt to sell her music to publisher Donnie Kirshner (Oliver Boot). We follow Carole’s story through her success as a prolific composer of an impressive catalogue of some of the best loved pop songs and to ultimately becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history.
Integral to the plot is the love-story between Carole (Daisy Wood-Davis) and her lyricist husband, Gerry Goffin (Adam Gillian), the other half of the hit songwriting team. Their relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil (Carly Cook) and Barry Mann (Cameron Sharp) is also significant.
Acts one and two have a very different feel to each other.
Act one is a time of new opportunities and growth. Teenage Carole meets and falls in love with her future husband. Their synergistic writing partnership blossoms and blooms. They become business colleagues and close friends with Cynthia and Barry and the two creative teams’ amicable competitiveness helps fuel the rise to success of both couples, leading to a string of chart hits and number ones.
Act two is more serious. Cracks in Carole and Gerry’s relationship deepen as his mental health declines. Self-deprecating Carole continues to stick by her unfaithful husband until Gerry’s increasingly unpredictable behaviour finally forces Carol to make some difficult choices for her own self-preservation.
BEAUTIFUL THE MUSICAL: HIGHLIGHTS
The highlight of Beautiful has to be the musical performances. Classic hits written by extraordinarily talented Carol King include: (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 The Locomotion.
The show also features hit songs by Carole and Gerry’s friends, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, including:- You’ve Lost that Lovin Feeling, On Broadway and We Gotta Get out of This Place.
Some of our favourite performances in the show are:
Will You Love Me Tomorrow
Carole and Gerry wrote the hit song when they were just 18 and 21 respectively, and performed by the Shirelles, it became the first US number one by a black girl group. I had goosebumps throughout Daisy Wood-Davis’s beautiful performance of Will You Love Me Tomorrow.
My other favourite is Daisy’s performance of Beautiful, “on the Carnegie Hall stage”, with just a grand piano for company. This is one of those rare moments when it’s easy to forget this is a musical, as Daisy’s passion makes it feel like we’re at a live concert; her performance seems too ‘real’ to be staged.
You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling
My mother didn’t stop talking about the amazingly deep-voiced ensemble singer, performing this song, so I have to include, You’ve Lost that Lovin Feeling (Barry Mann and The Righteous Brothers) in this list too!
There’s a satisfying transition from the composers huddled around a piano, developing the embryo of a melody to the ensemble emerging to take over the song moments later. They bring the polished numbers to life as The Shirelles, The Righteous Brothers or The Drifters.
I suspect the ensemble must be pretty busy backstage with quick character and costume changes. There’s no evidence of haste though as they appear on stage, composed and tunefully belt out each new hit song alongside the corresponding choreography in their contemporary outfits!
Carole and Gerry’s rollercoaster relationship is believable, serious and pivotal to the story. We are dealing with some mental health issues in our own family. Gerry’s erratic behaviour as he was heading towards a nervous breakdown and the way this impacted on his relationship with Carole, was very well depicted.
Cynthia and Barry’s relationship feels more lighthearted and adds a comedy element: they’re hilarious together. In the performance we saw, Cynthia was played by understudy, Carly Cook and she absolutely owned the part. I just can’t imagine her role played by anyone else. The interaction between Cynthia and Barry works perfectly.
We first see Carole as an optimistic, ambitious sixteen-year-old, complete with a bouncy ponytail and a bucket load of enthusiasm. As the story progresses, her outfits, hairstyle and demeanour mature with her. Daisy manages to be believable both as the energetic teenager and the mature woman.
Her performance as Carole is delightful: We believe in her passion for her music, her creative talent and her love for Gerry. And we’re completely blown away by her singing performances.
BEAUTIFUL THE MUSICAL: AGE SUITABILITY
Beautiful contains some adult themes: marital infidelity; an uncomfortable argument over a suggested game of strip poker and brief mentions of drugs.
We witness Gerry’s behaviour and his treatment of Carole become increasingly unpredictable as his mental health declines.
However, there’s no overt sexuality and the language is mild so I’d be happy to take my eleven-year-old to see the show.
Beautiful is a fun show to watch with a charismatic protagonist and a well-written story.
Daisy is a delight to watch as Carole King.
There’s a great selection of music which we couldn’t help but sing along to in the car on the way back home.
We thoroughly enjoyed the show and would highly recommend it!
So there you have it: The story synopsis, highlights, age suitability, our verdict and a list of theatres where you can book tickets to Beautiful. Does this sound like a show you’d like to watch? Have we tempted you to go and see the Olivier, Tony and Grammy award-winning, Beautiful, The Carole King Musical? Let us know in the comments below!
WHERE CAN I SEE BEAUTIFUL THE MUSICAL ON THE UK AND IRELAND TOUR?
- BRISTOL HIPPODROME
- BRADFORD ALHAMBRA THEATRE
- WALES MILLENNIUM CENTRE, CARDIFF
- SUNDERLAND EMPIRE THEATRE,
- NEW WIMBLEDON THEATRE
- MILTON KEYNES THEATRE
- VENUE CYMRU, LLANDUDNO
- MARLOWE THEATRE CANTERBURY
- SOUTHEND CLIFFS PAVILION
- EDINBURGH PLAYHOUSE
- LIVERPOOL EMPIRE THEATRE
- GLASGOW KINGS THEATRE
- NOTTINGHAM ROYAL CONCERT HALL
- MANCHESTER PALACE THEATRE
- NEW THEATRE OXFORD
- CHELTENHAM EVERYMAN
- ALEXANDRA THEATRE, BIRMINGHAM
- SOUTHAMPTON MAYFLOWER
- DARTFORD ORCHARD THEATRE
- DUBLIN BORD GÁIS ENERGY THEATRE
- NEWCASTLE THEATRE ROYAL
- LEEDS GRAND THEATRE
READ THE FULL GUIDE TO BRISTOL HIPPODROME SHOWS
For up to date show information, read my full Bristol Hippodrome what’s on guide. It covers Bristol Theatre productions including pricing, booking information and links to reviews with age suitability guides.
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