"Stick in the memory like fishhooks"
-The Daily Express-

"Likeable, zestful show"
-The Independent-

"Slick and witty"
-The Evening Standard-

Sorry, Beautiful closed on 05 Aug 2017

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This feel good show will prove incredibly popular with those who feel nostalgic for the music of the era

Critic Rating

26 February 2015, Aldwych Theatre
Amelia Amelia
This musical version of Carole King’s life took Broadway by storm when it premiered back in 2013. It may not be life changing but it's still immensely enjoyable. This is probably due to the fact that Carole King wrote an astonishing amount of hits including “The Locomotion”, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “One Fine Day” to name but a few.

A musical biopic the show follows King from starry eyed teenage songwriter who dreamed of getting married and living in the suburbs through to her unlikely rise to solo super stardom. Along the way she meets song writing partner and future husband Gerry Goffin and friends and rival song writing couple Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. Douglas McGrath’s book is cheesy and apart from being impressed by the shear creativity of this moment in history (the show also includes some of Weil and Mann’s numerous hits) and despairing at King’s cheating husband the story line is a bit thin. This is afterall a juke box musical and can feel at times like a showcase of hits albeit given a musical theatre edge. But when the songs are this good it’s hard to complain.

Derek Mclane’s set moved seamlessly between on stage where we see performances from a whole host of stars including The Drifters, The Shirelles and Little Eva to the backstage recording studios represented by an impressive series of platforms.

Katie Brayben seen recently in Almeida hits American Psycho and King Charles III is a revelation as Carole King. Not only can she sing and play the piano in true King style but she is also believable in her portrayal of King's despair at the breakdown of her marriage. Brayben charts not just King’s emotional growth but also her vocal growth starting out at shy sweet 16 singing ‘It Might As Well Rain Until September” to confidently belting out “Natural Woman” in the shows closing moments. Lorna Want also stood out as the sparky Cynthia Weil paired well with Ian McIntosh as the neurotic Barry Mann.

This feel good show will prove incredibly popular with those who feel nostalgic for the music of the era and received a standing ovation from the audience the night I was there.

Performance Date 26/02/15

Venue The Aldwych Theatre

Lead performers Katie Brayben as Carole King, Alan Morrissey as Gerry Goffin, Lorna Want as Cynthia Weil, Ian McIntosh as Barry Mann, Glynis Barber as Genie Klein, and Gary Trainor as Don Kirshner.

Where I sat Seat D5 in the Dress Circle I had an excellent view of the overall stage and a comfortable amount of legroom.

Recommended for If you’re a fan of the music of the era particularly the Drifters, the Shirelles and of course Carole King then you will love this classy juke box musical.

Neil Norman
Framed in the manner of The Jersey Boys and Memphis, Beautiful tries hard not to look like a run-of-the-mill jukebox musical and just about pulls it off thanks to Brayben and the music. A confession: I’ve never owned a copy of Tapestry yet I knew all the songs. Go figure.
Paul Taylor
The actress gives a wonderfully endearing performance that seems to soar beyond mere impersonation as it communicates King's warmth, modesty, self-deprecating humour, and touching integrity and projects the straight-from-the-heart candour of that nasal, husky, plaintively yearning singing voice.

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Henry Hitchings
Marc Bruni’s staging is slick and witty, Douglas McGrath’s book nicely highlights the industrial efficiency of the music business, and Derek McLane’s sets reinforce the impression of a world in which musicians are treated as soulless hirelings.Those who like their entertainment edgy may regard Beautiful as polite to the point of being tame. But this gently enjoyable show deserves to find an audience — and will surely enchant Baby Boomers nostalgic for the sounds of the Sixties. Although the absence of a big name may hamper its chances, Brayben feels like a star in the making.

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Quentin Letts
This is a big American production and it is slickly done. A busy ensemble gives us the Drifters, the Shirelles and the Righteous Brothers in best karaoke fashion...Its Americanised, airbrushy niceness aside, this show is sweet and happy as pie. It milks the tear ducts, gives you a long list of searing songs and will send many a couple home arm-in-arm to the very suburbs Carole King adored.

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Dominic Cavendish
She captures King’s familiar, plaintive intonations and her searing, sustained surges but when she sings numbers such as It’s Too Late and You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman they appear to come from some core part of her. What could be the show’s one-note trick, hearing songs emerging as if at the moment of composition, acquires real magic.
Michael Billington
Fans of the singer-songwriter Carole King may be happy just to hear a replay of her biggest hits in this West End musical, an efficient re-creation by Marc Bruni of his original Broadway production but with a British cast. While the show is pleasant enough, it struck me as the theatrical equivalent of one of those bland Hollywood biopics in which a local boy or girl makes it to the top of the showbiz ladder.