Carole King

Molly-Grace Cutler as Carole King at the piano with the cast.

Pictures: Ellie Kurttz

Beautiful: the Carole King Musical

Coventry Belgrade


Beautiful is well named. It tells the story of the life, career and music of Carole King and the New York ‘hit factory’ that produced the songs of a generation. The music is practically non-stop and amazing; the cast is huge and hugely versatile and talented. This show fair fizzes along with hit after hit.

Musician and song-writer Carole Klein King (Molly-Grace Cutler) at 17, a college student, meets Gerry Goffin (Tom Milner), lyricist and history is made – also a marriage and family – and their songs reach music maestro Donnie Kirshner (Garry Robson) who definitely knows a good song when he hears it.

Alongside their developing careers is set a rival song-writing team of Cynthia Weil (Seren Sandham-Davies) and hypochondriac Barry Mann (Jos Slovick).

I loved Barry’s less-than-impressed initial rendition of You’ve lost that loving feeling taken to great chart heights by The Righteous Brothers (Dan-De-Cruz and Elliot MacKenzie) and one of very many great songs recreated as part of the show.

I also loved the interaction between Carole and Genie, Carole’s mum, (Claire Greenway). Onstage we had The Drifters, The Shirelles as well as The Righteous Brothers to sweep us along with the music as inspired by the life events unfolding.

Carole and Shirelles

Naomi Alade (Shirelle), left, Louise Francis (Shirelle), Molly-Grace Cutler (Carole King) and Amena El-Kindy (Shirelle and Little Eva)

Carole’s music grows darker as Gerry’s numerous affairs take him away, eventually permanently, from the family. Carole’s move to Lou Adler’s studio (Kevin Yates) in California starts her incredible solo career.

Little Eva’s hit, The Locomotion, is a real scene-stealer. She arrives onstage with the baby in the pram as the family babysitter, complete with gorgeous psychedelic dress and yellow roller boots. Carole and Gerry persuade her to perform the hit – but lose the babysitter into the bargain. I’d tell you who played this amazing part but unfortunately there is no information in the programme – why?

This is a wonderful show and it felt like a real honour to be there after Broadway and West End tours. My favourite will always be You’ve got a Friend, I found tears rolling down my cheeks with the sense of nostalgia for all the times I’ve heard, played and sung along to that particular song. This is a truly great show.

Written by Douglas McGrath and adapted by Sarah Travis and directed by Nikolai Foster, Beautiful runs to 5-11-22. 

Jane Howard


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