I always thought legendary bibliography musicals surrounded the themes of emotional tragedy, heart-ache, death and betrayal, but this wasn’t the case for the Beautiful: The Carole King Story musical. The superb Esther Hannaford’s portrayal of Carole King captivated audiences in this incredible role, with her astonishing vocals and lively stage presence. “It’s safe to say that no-one else can compare to such an artist like Hannaford, and it’s this artistry that resonates through King’s music “(The AU Review), with Hannaford’s take on the song-writing legend, that is sure to mesmerise many through this beautiful nostalgia story.
When I was younger, my mum sang along to Carole King, belting out the words to “I Feel the Earth Move”, and “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman”. I came across a Sydney article online, about a musical review that “perfectly marries the both key elements of the successful jukebox musical – nostalgia and story” (The Guardian), soon to hit Melbourne. I bit the bullet, bought two tickets and surprised mum to go and see Beautiful: The Carole King Story.
Hundreds gathered around outside Your Majesty’s Theatre, with the front foyer filling up with people holding champagne and programmes in hands. The atmosphere was filled with excitement and noise, as people gathered around discussing their favourite songs by Carole King. We headed to our seats, being positioned centre staged. We sat down, chattered quietly with those around us as the lights grew dim and the show began.
From the moment Carole King (Esther Hannaford) opened singing “So Far Away”, I was captivated. My inner theatre fan-girl screamed with excitement as I watch Carole King perform in what appeared to be Carnegie Hall in 1971. Hannaford’s voice filled the theatre with her crisp and breath-taking vocals, “singing with confidence and sensitivity “ (The Daily Review). The stage then shifts into 1958, where we were introduced to a 16-year-old Carole telling her mother of her dream to become a famous song-writer in the ‘big city’. I thought this transition from 1971 to 1958 gave a meaningful perspective on life, and how behind every great success, there is a journey.
Josh Piterman, who played Carole King’s first husband Gerry Goffin, gave a powerful interpretation of the lyricist, complementing Esther Hannaford’s character of Carole King with his strong stage presence. Alongside, Amy Lepmer and Mat Verevis, being the musical ‘rivals’ Cynthia and Barry Mann who bought some fun banter, adding to the overall performance with a touch of quirkiness (Impulse Gamer).
Beautiful wowed the crowd with creativity through set changes, vibrant costumes, colour and renditions of classic hits that had everyone up singing and dancing. Every time a song began, people would whisper “I didn’t know she wrote this”, “I love this song!” or in my case “Was I born when this aired?”. With the crowd was filled with people filled aged 45+, it was a trip down memory lane…except me, who joined in and sang along anyway.
“Beautiful lets its audience feel everything and it’s a great example of how satisfying this now-established bio-jukebox formula can be “(The Guardian), with Carole King creating an emotional and touching impact on fans through her love and passion for song-writing. After leaving the show, I felt inspired and moved by Carole King’s journey, making me realise, like King once said, “I just want to give it all that I got. I just don’t want to waste it…” – So, with that, don’t waste your time, Beautiful: The Carole King Story Musical ends in Melbourne July 2!
Buy your tickets here, I’ve already bought mine…again.