REVIEW: Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at Sheffield Lyceum

By Phil Turner | 07/02/2018

REVIEW: Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at Sheffield Lyceum

CAROLE King’s musical genius proved she didn’t need help from anyone to ‘go all the way’.

She eventually found her own voice which blew the world away, highlighted on her huge best-selling album Tapestry – a must-have LP for a generation in the 70s. 

Mind you, for some of us in the audience the breakthrough came with her hit single, It Might As Well Rain Until September – hard to believe that was 1962.

Beautiful opens with Carole (played by Bronte Barbe) on stage at the Carnegie Hall in the 1970s, wondering why so many people in the audience are there to see her.

We are then transported back 14 years to when New Yorker Carole – born Carole Klein and an early girlfriend of Neil Sedaka growing up in Brooklyn – was just 16. 

Her prolific song-writing talent blossoms as she meets the love of her early-life and song-writing partner Gerry Goffin.

They went on to pen a huge chunk of the soundtrack to the 1960s – Will You Love Me Tomorrow, originally performed by the Shirelles, The Locomotion by Little Eva and Up On The Roof by The Drifters, all wonderfully performed in show-stopping style by the incredibly talented ensemble cast.

Barbe is compelling as Carole, from shy teenager with a passion for music to young mother, before she finally ditches Gerry when she finds he’s been cheating. 

She is especially convincing as King finding the strength to say she’s had enough of him and it’s her time now.

Barbe and Kane Oliver Parry as the troubled Goffin, work well together and the interplay with their friendly song-writing rivals and fellow couple, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, glues the whole thing together.

Amy Ellen Richardson puts in a terrific performance as Weil, knocking out the laughs and songs with her hypochondriac partner, cleverly played by Matthew Gonsalves – both actors display great vocals and comic timing. 

The relationship between the songwriting teams allows time for some more great hits of the period, including a knockout version of The Righteous Brothers’ You've Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.

By the time Barbe movingly sings (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, King’s transformation is complete. 

A Beautiful life indeed. 

The show is at the Sheffield Lyceum Theatre until Saturday, February 10, For more information visit www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk.