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Beautiful: The Carole King Musical - Coventry Review

The Made At Curve re-invention of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical opened back in March 2022. Back then I reviewed the show and gave it a glowing 4-star review. Fast forward 7 months and the show is heading toward its final venues including Coventry's Belgrade Theatre where it plays until Saturday 5th November.

Nikolai Foster's precise direction brings fresh life to the show. Re-vitalising the piece with new staging and new orchestrations. In those 7 months, it's clear the piece has only gotten stronger and it's all the better for it.

Molly-Grace Cutler as Carole King. Photo by Ellie Kurttz

The musical follows Carole through her career from a 16-year-old aspiring songwriter to a megastar venturing through heartbreaks and triumphs that inspired her music. You could argue the plot is a little thin but it delivers what it needs and allows for the music to be a key element.

The music is that key central element and the hit keep on rolling. The music written by Carole and her husband Geffy Goffin, with other tracks in the show written by duo Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, is a cracking songbook of numbers. Sarah Travis has done a fabulous job in re-orchestrating the work for the actor-musician cast. Dan-De-Cruz's on-stage musical direction is polished and makes the music sound fresh and vibrant.

The design by Frankie Bradshaw excellently sets the piece in a recording studio that becomes multiple other locations. This makes the audience feel like an observer in the birth of Carole's stardom as well as her peers. Though the design itself is a little simplistic it is expertly embossed by Ben Cracknell's dazzling lighting. Cracknell manages to convey emotion through his lighting with real skill. Whether that is using a whole host of lights or having one striking light it works perfectly.

The cast of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical - Photo by Ellie Kurttz.

Molly-Grace Cutler is simply outstanding as Carole King. As soon as they stroll out to the piano and opens the first note of 'So Far Away' you are completely sold by their mesmerising vocals. Cutler is as good as the real thing and will blow you away. It's an astonishing performance. It's not only their vocal, which is in a league of their own, but they also weave Carole's journey with heart and emotion. One of the stand-out moments comes at the end of act one when Cutler reprises 'One Fine Day' with such a punchy feeling.

Tom Milner carries Gerry Goffin well. He initially becomes a likeable presence and a lovely match for Carole but Milner captures the breakdown and unfaithfulness of the role well that leads to the eventual breakup with precision conveying a rollercoaster of emotions. On the flip side Seren Sandham-Davies as Cynthia Weil and Jos Slovick as Barry Mann create a wholesome couple that isn't without little rifts but their warmth and strong stage presence blossom throughout. 

The entire company is electric in their performances delighting with musicality. There are tremendous vocals throughout with bands such as The Drifters, The Shirelles and The Righteous Brothers all featuring and all are nailed by a talented ensemble. You can see and feel the enjoyment that the cast is having with the material.

You may enter Beautifully knowing Carole King's back catelogue or you may not but either way, you'll unite for a performance of sheer quality. This grand new take on the musical is sensational and with an amazing leading performance. You'll be singing the songs long after the curtain comes down. Will audiences still love it tomorrow and beyond? You bet they will. 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical continues at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre until Saturday 5th November 2022. Tickets are available from The tour visits Cheltenham's Everyman Theatre (8th - 12th November), Liverpool Empire Theatre (15th - 19th November) and Oxford's New Theatre (22nd - 26th November). Visit for more information.

Seren Sandham-Davies (Cynthia Weil) and Jos Slovick (Barry Mann) - Photo by Ellie Kurttz

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