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  • Review by john Murray

Beautiful The Carole King Musical

Still showing at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on Broadway and hailed as the musical of a lifetime we were privileged to experience Beautiful The Carole King Musical come to Edinburgh. But it did and for just one short week of eight performances. Bronte Barbe plays the lead and you may know here as a finalist in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Over The Rainbow TV series. She conquers the Brooklyn accent and the soaring vocals of our hero ranging from her nervous youthful debut on It Might As Well Rain Until September to her triumphant Carnegie Hall concert as a hit artist as she performs the title song with gusto and then a rousing encore of I feel The Earth Move from the platinum album Tapestry.

For many of this sell out audience this was a milestone album and it was very much a student and young person’s soundtrack back in 1971. It shaped Carole King’s career and it features heavily in her stage story opening with So Far Away, You’ve Got A Friend, several takes on Will You Love Me Tomorrow, the break though single It’s Too Late and the show stopping (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. Along the way we get a cameo from Neil Sedaka and Oh Carol and glitzy choreographed acts demonstrating the finished Goffin & King songs You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling with the Righteous Brothers, On Broadway & Up On The Roof with The Drifters, Will You Love Me Tomorrow by The Shirelles and baby sitter Little Eva with the original Locomotion.

As you can imagine this takes a huge cast, fast moving Broadway style sets, numerous costume changes and many songs. When the whole ensemble treats us to a medley of songs created at 1650 Broadway (the Brill Building) we get a flavour of the busy multilevel brilliant staging and a taste of the music to come. We should have know of course as the overture at both halves served us well and faultlessly performed by MD Patrick Hurley and his eight piece orchestra in the pit. As a story the writing of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann is equally important to the story and this is the way it was after all. I felt the Neil Sedaka connection could have featured more and James Taylor from her Los Angeles days was erased completely. That said they did pack a colossal amount from a prolific time and the standing ovation showed universal approval of this smash hit musical.

Edinburgh Playhouse till Dec 2

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