‘Beautiful’ (Edinburgh Festival Theatre) | Review By Lewis C. Baird

The Curve Leicester and Nikolai Foster’s revival production of ‘Beautiful’ The Carole King Musical has arrived at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre. ‘Beautiful’ tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit song-writing team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation, with countless classics such as ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’, ‘Take Good Care of My Baby’, ‘You’ve Got a Friend’, ‘So Far Away’, ‘It Might as Well Rain Until September’, ‘Up on the Roof’, and ‘The Loco-motion’ featured in the musical. 

Molly-Grace Cutler is incredible as Carole King. Molly-Grace’s vocal talent is exquisite, having her gorgeous vocals echo throughout the theatre sends chills rippling through the audience. Not only that but multitasking that with her impressive piano skills truly is a feast for the ears. A highlight is her performance of ‘You’ve Got a Friend’, this is a raw emotional rendition of the iconic track. Her naturalistic and impeccable portrayal of King brings such energy and love to the singer, the audience can’t help but to fall in love with the artist. This is a remarkable performance from a superb actress. 

Tom Milner is a broken man as Gerry Goffin. Tom’s portrayal of Gerry shows the creative genius of the man while also showing a man who has been corrupted by the industry and temptation. His dynamic with Molly-Grace’s Carole shows a turbulent couple, approaching the same challenges with a different scope. Tom also gives several strong vocal performances, including a lovely rendition of ‘Up on the Roof’. 

Seren Sandham-Davies as Cynthia Weil and Jos Slovick as Barry Mann both deliver lovely portrayals as the lyricist and composer. They show excellent skill in terms of vocal, musical and acting ability, bringing these complex characters to life with such depth.  

Garry Robson is charming and funny as music producer Donnie Krishner. Garry lightens each scene he is featured in with his comedic and cut throat portrayal of Donnie. 

This musical features an ensemble of actor-musicians who not only act as characters but also as the band. The ensemble are as follows; Claire Greenway (Genie Klein), Dan-De-Cruz (Musical Director, Rightous Brother & Neil Sadaka), Naomi Alade, Kemi Clarke (Drifter), Chris Coxon (Offstage Swing), Amena El-Kindy (Shirelle), Louise Francis (Shirelle), Dylan Gordon-Jones (Offstage Swing), Jessica Jolleys (Offstage Swing), Sorrel Jordan (Betty & Marilyn Wald), Adrien Spencer (Offstage Swing), Miles Miller (Drifter & Engineer), Peter Mooney (Nick & Righteous Brother) & Kevin Yates (Drifter & Lou Adler).

Nikolai Foster has yet again revived a musical using his ingenious creativity to lift and re-work ‘Beautiful’ into a stunning piece of theatre. Relying on the performer’s talent to tell this story in such a stripped back manner, pushes an emphasis on Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Cynthia Weil and Jos Slovick’s musical talent. Douglas McGarth’s book does well to tell King’s story while giving the space to feature her catalogue of songs without making it jarring. Steve Sidwell’s orchestrations with Sarah Travis’ adaptions make the four songwriter’s music sound the best they ever have. Leah Hill’s Choreography lifts each musical number with energy whist radiating the contemporary style of Foster’s vision. Frankie Bradshaw’s multi-purpose set design gives us hints of the setting of each scene and works brilliantly to take the audience back to the 60s/70s especially in the setting of the recording studio. Ben Cracknell’s lighting design is outstanding, it provides a visual feast and fits the tone for musical number perfectly, this is by far the most impressive lighting design in UK theatre.  

‘Beautiful’ is the epitome of what contemporary musical theatre should be with Nikolai Foster’s stunning direction and a cast of incredibly talented performers. This is most likely the best production of this musical you’ll ever see. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Get your tickets for ‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical’ at Capital Theatres below:

https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical

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