Beautiful is a musical about the celebrated 60s songwriter Carole King. This show has all the panache and drama of -60s American popular music. This play is currently on at the Aldwych Theatre, London.
The play opens with 16 year Carole speaking in her Nuyawk accent about her dream of stardom. Her staid mother pushes her towards a steady career in teaching. The free spirited teenager talks her way into a musich producer’s office. She writes dozens of songs some of which she sells. Carole is a slightly diffident teenager wearing decidedlu unglamorous clothes. She attends college early and strike ups a partnership with an undergraduate whi is a few years older than her. Romance blossoms in no time. Pregnancy leads to a shotgun wedding. Astonishingly while her boyfriend is adamant that they must wed Carole is more circumspect: sagely as it turns out. Carole Klein changes her name to King.
*There are hits aplenty. Carole is friends with another Young woman who is a singer songwriter. She too has a boyfriend who is eager to marry her but she decided to remain unwed.
The quartet write songs for African -American performers. Their personal lives intertwine with their artistic endeavours. We hear some of the most recognisable songs of the 60s going through their growing pains. As Carole married in a rush her husband begins to regret it at his leisure. He embarks on a series of extra marital affaIRS. Carole forgives him at first but eventually realises her marriage is a calamity.
It is quite Something to listen to a bad early version of That Loving Feeling. One is reminded that musicians and composers go through trial and error as they experiment with various tempoes and keys.
There are some dazzlingly quick costume changes. The set moves very slickly and not a moment is lost. There are many droll lines such as “Love; the cause of so much hate.” These are all superlatively delivered. The musical virtuousity of the caste is unsurpassed. Their terpsichoreanism is also marvelous. The actresses and actors are almost all goregoeus. This is showbiz and notoriously cruel to those who do not measure up to physical perfection.
The orchestra enlivens the show. But is there really a full orchestra down there or just a few keyboard players?
Carole changes hairstyle a few times to signal the passage of time.
Beautiful is the 60s in all is glamour, glitz, naivete; false hope and angst. tHIS is an enthralling show and you will find yourself on a high leaving the auditoriuM. This is not a searching play so do not expect this performance to mean much.
The stoyrline has pace and thus engages the audidence. But the script sometimes pushes the pace too much and one loses the plot. The plot does not matter a great deal. Most punters are there for the bravura acting and the show stopping numbers.