Beautiful UK Tour: Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Reviewed 26th March 2018
Beautiful tells the biographic tale of Carole King and how she rose through the ranks to become a chart-topping music legend. Previously running on Broadway and in the West End, winning numerous awards including two Tony Awards and an Olivier Award, Beautiful has been a huge success. This debut UK Tour of Beautiful featuring well known hits such as You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman, Take Good Care of my Baby, You’ve Got a Friend, It Might As Well Rain Until September and Locomotion it is sure to be a hit with countless more audience members.
This touring version of the smash hit Beautiful is reminiscent of the West End and Broadway versions. Its stylish sets, designed by Derek McLane, are stunning and would fit right in with the high quality sets seen in the West End. The automation, which is used throughout the show, is effective and add that polished feel to this touring production. Both the sets and automations are top quality and despite a small technical problem on the night of this review the overall effect was fantastic. The lighting, designed by Peter Kaczorowski, is excellent. The lighting can make or break a show and the lighting demonstrated here was fantastic. Everything has been thought about and the use of the lighting really helps to showcase the hits that Carole King created whilst also highlighting her own personal struggle through this biographic tale.
Bronte Barbe is outstanding as Carole King herself. She demonstrates great vulnerability and emotion throughout whilst also showcasing a strong, independent streak. She is an actress who fully shows her emotion and yet it does not feel forced or over the top. Bronte is more than capable of singing Carole King’s greatest hits and received rapturous applause. The relationships onstage between the characters are also believable and enjoyable to watch develop.
As well as focusing on Carole King and her relationship with writing partner Gerry Goffin the audience is treated to some other well known 60’s hits such as The Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling as we follow their song-writing rivals Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. Matthew Gonsalves is fantastic in role as the loveable hypocondriac Barry Mann. His vocals are impressive with a rich quality and tone to his voice and his comic timing adds a much needed lighter note to the show. Amy Ellen Richardson excells as Barry’s writing partner and eventual lover Cynthia Weil. Again, as with the entire cast, her vocals are superb.
For fans of Carole King, this musical is a great biographic tale of how she became top of the charts in her own right. It mixes well-known hits with a story that not many will be familiar with and does so with great sincerity and empathy. This is a true story. It is not sensationalised for the stage and due to this it is able to tell the real story of Carole King, someone to whom many will be able to relate to. It is about love, hope and determination and has a true feel-good factor. If you have seen Beautiful in the West End or on Broadway this new UK Tour really does stay true to the original and is a fantastic example of what a top quality touring company can produce. So grab yourself a ticket, sit back and enjoy being transported on a journey through musical history.
Beautiful is playing at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury until Saturday 31st March. For tickets click here.
For more information, venues and tickets for Beautiful click here.
Photo Credit: Craig Sugden