Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, Bristol Hippodrome

ONE of the most frequent criticisms levelled at musical biographies in the golden years of Hollywood was that the scripts rarely did anything more than scraped the surface of the true story of those whose lives were being depicted, and this show reminds me of one of those glossy presentations.

Like those films, it does have one great asset, which a Hippodrome audience crow­ded with fans of the singer/ songwriter Carole King fully appreciated. It was jam packed with the songs she wrote with lyricist Gerry Goffin, and those of their friends and rivals Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

When you are talking about a lady responsible for around 100 hit singles, the choice is wide, and with most of the 26 numbers featured in the show composed by Carole King, there was plenty for those fans to enjoy. Twelve of these numbers were either solos for, or featured Daisy Wood-Davis as the Carole, and she never missed an opportunity to show the passion and commitment that had gone into the writing of those songs.

If you think you “know that face” but not as a singer, you will find the answer in Daisy’s television CV – she is Kim Butterfield in Hollyoaks, Tansy Meadow, Eastenders and Phoebe Crowhurst in Holby City.

Having proved her ability as singer and mime artist (with perfect fingering, she really did appear to be accompanying herself on piano while MD Andrew Corcoran was actually doing the honours).

It was a pity that the paper- thin scripts did not give her the opportunity to develop the character. Anyone who wrote such an enormous number of hits, survived the traumatic breakup of her marriage, and then moved on to be as big a success as a singer as she had been a composer, is much more than the passive lady whose story is over sentimentally told in this show.

Similarly there must be more to learn about Carole’s ex husband and lyricist Gerry Goffin than that he was a man continually dissatisfied with life.

Making the most of the drama on hand and hitting the vocal highspots with Up on the Roof, aided by a smart quartet representing the Drifters, Adam Gillian certainly did more than just pull his weight.

The same can be said for Cameron Sharp and Carly Cook who also provided some very welcome humour as King and Goffin’s long standing friends and songwriting rivals Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

With another well recreated group, this time the Right­eous Brothers, in support Cameron Sharp grabbed the chance to score with You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, with both hands.

The Shirelles, and Little Eva were amongst groups and individual star turns of the period stylishly recreated visually and in song. In a show dominated by its musical content, spare a thought for Susie Fenwick and Oliver Boot, who created two lovely characters, Carole King’s Mother Genie Klein, and record producer Donnie Kirshner. They deserved more that the smattering of applause they received compared to the others at the end of the show from this appreciative audience.


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