Directed by Marc Bruni
Michael Cassel Group
Sydney Lyric Theatre
Pirrama Road, Pyrmont
Season: 17 September – 23 December
Full disclosure, being the young’un I am, I didn’t know who Carole King was before going to see the musical. What many of you will be relieved to hear is that, to my surprise, I did indeed know many of her songs without having ever realised she was the true person behind them. Once you realise the vast magnitude of her song-writing prowess in the industry especially during the 60s and 70s, you can’t help but appreciate her talent. Given the quality catchy songs that she has written feature throughout the musical, alongside some of the songs written by her colleagues, the music is already a winner. When you add in the interesting momentum of her life and personal relationships it makes for a really engaging and delightful production. I didn’t want it to end.
The performers in this musical really are top class. There isn’t a weak link and every cast member plays a part in upping the standard, as part of the lively ensemble or in the gamut of feature roles that spike the quirky personality of the piece. Before seeing the show, I thought the billboards and flags around the city looked a little naff, like the cover of a cheesy b-grade American pulp fiction novel, or something. Splendidly, my expectations were blown out of the water with a show that proves to be fantastically comical, touching, and beaming with energy that takes the audience to a high. Esther Hannaford brings a wonderfully dorky touch to Carole without being demeaning, rather this quality endears her to us and allows for us to go on the journey with her establishing self confidence and independence. Amy Lehpamer plays Cynthia Weil with magnetic charm and Josh Piterman plays Carole’s husband and business partner Gerry with suave flair even when riddled with challenges and vice.
Production design by Derek Mclane (set) and Alejo Vietti (costume) is striking and enhances the wow-factor of the show. Some costume changes appeared to occur magically, and when you know that everything is happening live before your eyes there is something quite thrilling about special touches like that. Choreography by Josh Prince is excellent, drawing from the period in both a comical and deliciously authentic fashion. The cast don’t miss a beat, embracing the musical style of the various music groups they portray whilst hitting every punchy dance move with finesse.
Beautiful really is just that – it surpassed my expectations no doubt, and it achieves an impeccable balance between compelling storytelling and jiving music numbers. There will be hoards of people wanting to see this show with a sentimental view of her music, but this show can appeal just as much to younger generations perhaps unaware of King’s vast achievements. If you go see the show, I think you’ll have a beautiful time.