So, my Year of the Theatre is officially under way, and we’re kicking things off with Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. We saw the matinee of this show on Saturday 21st January at the Aldwych Theatre, and it was the perfect way to kick off my friend Olivia’s birthday celebrations!
To be completely honest, I’d never given much thought to seeing this show before. I knew it had fab reviews, had won the same awards as some of my favourite musicals, and I never doubted that it would be amazing. However, there’s always been something else at the top of the list for me, usually shows either from my own generation or that I could relate to, that I think I would appreciate and understand more.
In spite of that, I really enjoyed it! The story follows the life of Carole King and incorporates the songs that she and her friends created, both with former husband Gerry Goffin, and on her own. To say that neither myself nor either of the two friends I went with knew anything about Carole King or her story beforehand, the plot was easy yet engaging to follow. I was slightly unwell on the day and was concerned that the plot would go straight over my head due to brain-fog, but I had no problems at all and the performance held my attention all the way through. The cast were beyond talented: Cassidy Janson has the most gorgeous voice, and I loved Lorna Want’s performance and witty one-liners as Cynthia too.
However, the real winner for me in this musical was the soundtrack. When I first began listening to it, a few weeks prior to seeing the show, I couldn’t believe how many of the songs I knew or recognised, and I had no idea that Carole King was associated with them. It’s beyond difficult to pick a favourite on such a feel-good soundtrack but I loved ‘Chains’ in particular. I’m conscious of sounding like a cynical granny here, but whilst I was watching the show, I couldn’t help wishing that the charts were still full of songs like these. To think how much popular music has changed in what’s really quite a short amount of time is bizarre… kids these days, eh?
Overall, I really enjoyed this musical and was glad that I experienced and enjoyed something that I wouldn’t have necessarily picked out for myself. I do think I would have appreciated it a lot more if I grew up in the generation where this music was produced; some of the jokes and references that had the audience in stitches were lost on me. In spite of that, I’d really recommend seeing this show for a sunny yet moving insight into the life of Carole King: a woman whose undeniable talent shaped a generation of music, but most importantly has given me another killer soundtrack to jam along to when I’m supposed to be doing something more productive.