It’s hard to conceive the number of Billboard chart hits written by Carole King. And while some may scratch their head as to ‘Carole who?’, the tunes are certainly recognisable. Together with wordsmith (and future husband) Gerry Goffin, King is noted as one of the most influential songwriters of the second half of 20th century.
While not strictly sticking to chronology, Beautiful is such a well constructed, energising and toe-tapping homage to her music and personal life. Beginning with her first walk into a recording studio at age 16 with tune Rain in September, she gets signed on the spot by producer Don Kirschner.
Meeting Goffin soon after at the studio, they team up, both professionally and personally, marrying in 1959. Together the pair are unstoppable; their hits keep coming and coming:
- “Like a Natural Woman” – made famous by Aretha Franklin
- “Locomotion” – made famous at different times, but first by Little Eva (who had been the babysitter to King and Goffin’s daughter) in 1962 and our own Kylie Minogue in the late 80s.
- “One Fine Day” – originally The Chiffons, later by Bette Midler and Natalie Merchant
- “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” – by The Shirelles and more recently, Amy Winehouse
- “Take Good Care of My Baby” – recorded by Bobby Vee, 1961
- “You Got a Friend” – recorded by King, 1961 and later by good friend and collaborator, James Taylor.
Esther Hannaford is wonderful as King. Her vocal range and emotion may spark a tear or two in the second half when a new chapter of her life begins.
Several of the songs are injected with amusing Neil Sedaka (King’s one-time real-life high school sweetheart) pop-ins from the rafters but then vanishes in mid-chorus. A pattern followed by other recording stars throughout the show, which help make it a music-jam packed two and a bit hours.
Coming to Beautiful not familiar with the story of King, you will enjoy the sights and sounds. King stands as one of the early female trailblazers of the industry. One who shoved convention aside and went on to pursue a solo career when others and her own doubts told her otherwise. It’s the strength of conviction that’s a great example for all.
About Beautiful The Carole King Musical
Beautiful The Carole King Story plays at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC until 2 September 2018.
Head to the Beautiful The Carol King website for more information.