Sadly I have become somewhat of a cynic when it comes to jukebox musicals. I often leave them feeling a little rushed, confused and frustrated due to the nature of the weak plot, crammed in songs and undeveloped elements. However I am pleased to say Beautiful: The Carole King Musical has smashed through my preconceptions of the subgenre of jukebox musicals.
Carole King played by Daisy Wood-Davis exuded pure joy, but also settled to allow you to connect with her during moments of trial and tribulation between her and her childhood sweetheart Gerry Goffin (Adam Gillian).
Their friends and songwriting duo Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann accompany them in their work and support them during affairs, pregnancy and writers block. They are played by Laura Baldwin and Cameron Sharp – though on this performance, Carly Cook was on as Cynthia Weil.
Carly Cook was hilarious, delivering her dry and witty lines with ease and often stealing moments with her comedic timing. The four have a great dynamic and along with music mogul Donnie Kirshner and Carole’s mother Genie Klien the main cast are strong.
I felt the ensemble were weaker and the performances from The Drifters, The Shirelles, Little Eva and The Righteous Brothers lacked the slickness, solidness and general ‘oomph’ compared to the others.
Like many jukebox musicals it is not without its moments where it lacks pace due to the lingering over songs, which naturally take centre stage. But we are treated to a diverse song book thanks to Carole’s talents with songs ranging from Will You (Still) Love Me Tomorrow, You’ve Got A Friend and The Loco-Motion.
This is a jukebox musical with a strong plot, great cast and enjoyable music. It has gravitas and grit as well as irresistible joy and many uplifting moments. Beautiful is modest and understated, making it more elegant and less garish than other jukebox musical I have seen.
Not only is this the most tasteful, sophisticated and refined jukebox musical I’ve come across but it leaves you with massive respect for the songwriter, Carole King, as well as a spring in your step and a catchy song in your head.