Beautiful tells the inspirational story of Carole King; the singer-songwriter who was probably behind a lot more hits than you realise. Certainly I spent most of the evening whispering “I didn’t know she wrote that,” to my companion. The show takes in Carole’s humble beginnings as a bright, advanced student of education at Queen’s College, New York, through her prolific and successful song writing years with husband Gerry Goffin, ending with her sell-out solo engagement at Carnegie Hall.
Beautiful is the perfect juke-box musical. Packed full of well-known songs, all performed excellently by a very talented cast, the show has a strong enough plot to keep us engaged throughout, but doesn’t allow itself to get bogged down in detail. Daisy Wood-Davis is exceptional as Carole King. Not only can she sing, she also embodies the character so well that the audience roots for her throughout. Playing a character starts as a naive 16 year old and ends as a divorced mother of 2 is no easy task, but Wood-Davis does it easily. Her vocals are stunning; her rendition of “Natural Woman,” is something I’d gladly listen to over and over again.
Wood-Davis is supported by a strong ensemble. Special mention to Carly Cook playing the role of fellow lyricist and King’s friend, Cynthia Weil, and Cameron Sharp as her partner, Barry Mann. The pair bounced off one another easily, delivering many of the best lines. The whole cast, though, brings an infectious energy and love for music that was easily apparent to the very appreciative Hippodrome audience. This hits just kept on coming and, for me, each one had me reminiscing about happy times spent listening to music with my parents, who grew up in the 60s. There were a few opening night hitches, but nothing that really distracted from the overall performance. Beautiful really was just that.