Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre - review and pictures
Carole King is among the most influential songwriters of a generation - and last night Wolverhampton crowds were treated to an insight into a snippet of her life when musical Beautiful rolled into town.
The show tells the tale of the music icon’s rise to fame as a writer and her relationship with songwriting partner and husband Gerry Goffin.
It’s a bumpy road along the way, which takes crowds on a whirlwind of emotions, displayed tremendously well by the cast’s excellent acting skills, perfectly portraying relationships between the characters.
Taking on the main role of Carole was Bronté Barbé, who was endearing and sweet throughout, though a little overshadowed by the other actors at times, due to both the storyline and the others' talents.
Playing the part of her lover and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin, meanwhile, was the superbly talented Grant McConvey, who was among the top stars of the show. Not only did he portray the part of the charming and brilliant - yet troubled and disloyal - Gerry, but his wide-ranging, strong vocals were also outstanding from start to end.
After recording her first song at the age of 16, Carole meets Gerry at college - having skipped two years in her education - and the pair quickly join forces, in both music and love.
After securing an office at a Broadway ‘factory’ where songs are written for chart-topping acts such as The Drifters, the pair meet fellow artists, and soon-to-be lovers, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann - who quickly become the couple’s friends.
Amy Ellen Richardson, as Cynthia, played the part wonderfully with passion and great acting skill, while Matthew Gonsalves portrayed the brilliant and needy-but-enchanting hypochondriac Barry Mann, with excellence; his wide-ranging vocals being among the best of the show.
Throughout the performance, the audience is treated to an insight into the process and self-doubting of songwriting - with moments provoking raucous laughter from the crowd as the numbers the creators were unsure of turn out to be huge, beloved hits.
It was also an eye-opening show, revealing just how many massive songs Carole and Gerry wrote for other artists - many of which saw the audience sing along.
The various singers and dancers who played The Shirelles, The Righteous Brothers and The Drifters were excellent too, with good choreography and great vocals and harmonies.
Though she played the part of Carole very well, there were parts where Bronté’s New York accent was a little poor, and unfortunately - though Carole has never claimed to be the world’s greatest singer - Bronté’s voice simply wasn’t up to taking on the lead role.
I also felt that as I was so very intrigued by Carole’s story that I would, in fact, have liked to have learned more about her. The songwriting legend was married four times, for example, but the play only touches on one of her relationships. Beautiful also ends with Carole performing at The Carnegie Hall following the release of her first album Tapestry; but she went on to do so much more. I suppose this does perhaps make way for a sequel, however.
Overall, a most enjoyable evening - and certainly a show worth watching. Though I did feel had more been done with it, it could have been Some Kind Of Wonderful.