Molly-Grace Cutler as Carole King in Beautiful at Malvern Theatres

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at Malvern Theatres: Review

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Carole King was only 17 when she wrote her first number 1 hit. Based on the story of her remarkable rise from singer-songwriter to music legend, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical takes audiences back to the heart of
King’s landmark 1971 album ‘Tapestry’. Through the medium of King’s music, Beautiful tells the story of her life, both personal and professional. In the fabulously atmospheric Malvern Theatre, Carole King introduces herself to younger audience members, whilst simultaneously delighting those for whom she provided the soundtrack to their youth.

Molly-Grace Cutler as Carole King in Beautiful at Malvern Theatres
Molly-Grace Cutler as Carole King playing the grand piano on stage

About Beautiful – the Carole King Musical

The Story

As a keen teenager ready to break into the music scene, Carole King tried repeatedly to sell her songs. At just 16 years old, she got together with Gerry Goffin, who was to become her husband. Together, they wrote “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” which was a number one hit for the Shirelles. The first half uses the couple’s dozens of hit songs to tell the story of their early lives.

Early in her career, Carole King realised that she was pregnant with her first child. The couple got married and continued to write hits. Beautiful – the Carole King Musical follows their relationship as it begins to deteriorate. A second baby and a couple of affairs later, their marriage is over. Written down, this sounds like a fairly dismal and tragic story. Fortunately, it is told in an upbeat, energetic manner and the first half is packed full of classic songs.

We return to the second half after Carole and Gerry have split up. Carole makes up her mind it’s time for a fresh start and heads off to live in LA. Here, she embarks on her first album as a performer, Tapestry. The album stayed at number 1 for fifteen weeks and won multiple awards.

Running as an additional story throughout the show is Carole’s friendship with Cynthia Wei and Barry Mann. Their parallel careers and relationships are also showcased.

The Cast

Beautiful – the Carole King Musical has a huge and talented cast. Musical instruments are on stage throughout the performance and many characters play instruments as well as singing and dancing. The main characters are played by:

  • Carole King: Molly-Grace Cutler
  • Gerry Goffin: Tom Milner
  • Cynthia Weil: Seren Sandham-Davies
  • Barry Mann: Jos Slovick
  • Donnie Kirshner: Garry Robson

The production is Directed by Nikolai Foster, Artistic Director at Curve, Leicester.

Tom Milner and Molly-Grace Cutler as Carole King in Beautiful at Malvern Theatres
Molly-Grace Cutler as Carole King and Tom Milner as Gerry Goffin

Beautiful at Malvern Theatres: Review

Beautiful – the Carole King Musical is an upbeat, energetic production that is absolutely packed full of songs. It perfectly strikes the delicate balance between telling a story and cramming in a plethora of fantastic tunes. Each hit is cleverly used to demonstrate a particular period in Carole King’s life. The audience veered between transfixed in motionless silence, to struggling to sit still as their feet tapped to the tunes.

Alongside the story and soundtrack, there was an undertone of humour. Many of the gags were based on things that actually happened. I admit to having come home and hit Google to check whether Little Eva was really Carole and Gerry’s babysitter. She was!

The theatre was absolutely packed on a Tuesday night, I would be surprised if it wasn’t sold out. I suspect I was one of only a few people watching who wasn’t a fan of Carole King. That’s not to say that I don’t know and love all the songs. I just had absolutely no idea she had written them. Even if you didn’t know the songs (you definitely do), the production is accessible, entertaining and fun.

Backing dancers in Beautiful the Carole King Musical at Malvern Theatres
Beautiful – tour – 2022 Production photos taken on the 28th February 2022, at Curve Theatre Leicester, Directed by Nikolai Foster

Is Beautiful – the Carole King Musical suitable for children?

I did notice that my two girls were the only children in the theatre. The age guidance is 10+ so it is definitely suitable for older children. Whilst Beautiful is based on an artist that little ones won’t have heard of, that doesn’t detract from the fact that it is fun, exciting and easy to watch. It was an incredibly inspiring performance, especially for future stage stars. Within five minutes of the start, Lia had decided she wanted to play the double bass. Both girls appreciated the number of instruments the cast played, as well as the singing and dancing.

The production is quite long, with a late finish so I know they’re going to be tired tomorrow. If possible, I would usually avoid going on a school night. There were a couple of quite mild swear words used. They were completely in context and I probably wouldn’t have noticed if a little voice hadn’t whispered in my ear “he did a swear”.

I was really glad we took the children and they absolutely loved it. I thought it was a bit of a shame that more children weren’t there. Access to theatre for children is so important to inspire the next generation of singers, songwriters and performers.

The cast of Beautiful the Carole King Musical at Malvern Theatres
The cast gather around the piano for the final song

What else do you need to know?

  • When is Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at Malvern Theatres? From Tuesday 3rd to Saturday 7th May 2022. Evening shows start at 7.30 pm each day and matinees are on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 2.30 pm.
  • How long does the performance last? Around two and a half hours including an interval.
  • How to book tickets: Tickets are available to book on the Malvern Theatres website.
  • Where will Beautiful – The Carole King Musical be showing next? After finishing at Malvern, the production moves on to Cambridge Arts Theatre from 10th to 21st May 2022. The rest of the tour dates and ticketing information are on the Beautiful – The Carole King Musical website.

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