Review: Beautiful - The Carole King Musical at Norwich Theatre Royal

Bront� Barb� heads the cast in Beautiful The Carole King Musical. Photo Birgit & Ralf Brinkhoff

Bront� Barb� heads the cast in Beautiful The Carole King Musical. Photo Birgit & Ralf Brinkhoff - Credit: Birgit & Ralf Brinkhoff

Carole King is the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century and the most successful female songwriter on the UK singles charts between 1952 and 2005.

Bront� Barb� will head the cast in Beautiful The Carole King Musical. Photo: Johan Persson

Bront� Barb� will head the cast in Beautiful The Carole King Musical. Photo: Johan Persson - Credit: Archant

She wrote hits for the likes of Aretha Franklin, The Monkees and even The Drifters – she's what they call 'a big deal,' musical-worthy, even.

But long before she was Carole King, the chart-topping music legend, she was an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent.

I've seen many a show at Norwich Theatre Royal but never have I left the theatre feeling so vividly optimistic – Beautiful is just that, sprinkled with a hearty dusting of warmth. One can even forgive the bad wigs.

I felt the earth move the second the curtain was raised, it's the high energy of The Jersey Boys meets the colour and vibrancy of Hairspray.

Bront� Barb� heads the cast in Beautiful The Carole King Musical. Photo: Johan Persson

Bront� Barb� heads the cast in Beautiful The Carole King Musical. Photo: Johan Persson - Credit: Archant


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A technical hitch with a rotating piano paused the performance a little under half an hour in for about eight minutes - the first issue they've encountered in the four week tour so far - a small detail in an otherwise seamless performance.

The show follows the early life of Carole King (born Carole Klein), at 16 she's looking to break through into the music industry.

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She's on the brink of selling her first song to Aldon Music when she falls pregnant to fellow musician Gerry Goffin – the pair are swiftly engaged and before we know it the talented duo are making a name for themselves as hit music makers.

If you love the music of Carole King, then seeing the story of her career unfolding will only intensify that for you.

The story of Carole King could have been enough to sustain the show – but it was so much more with background into other composers and performers.

The cast carry the story seamlessly, the standing ovation began almost as soon as the final blackout was over – and it was well deserved, particularly for the lead, Bronté Barbé, who has a voice that would make Carole King herself proud.

The show is a toe tapping success so be sure to book your tickets to watch this jam packed, energy fuelled performance at Norwich Theatre Royal.

Beautiful - The Carole King Musical is at the Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday.

For more information and to book tickets, visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 630000.

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