Beautiful – the Carole King Musical has now opened in London at the Aldwych Theatre. Here’s a summary of what the major critics had to say. Book tickets to Beautiful – The Carole King Musical.
Everything about the production seems fresher, lovelier and livelier than on Broadway. It’s a feast for eyes and ears and, when it is done, the feeling of elation is irresistible. I can count on one hand the number of musicals which have tempted me to dance along with the final tune, after the bows, but this show is another. And at its heart is the phenomenal Katie Brayben. This is the kind of musical one can see every week and not regret spending the time or money in so doing. Fundamentally fabulous and perfectly executed.
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.
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.
The songs do all the heavy lifting, since — with all due respect — King’s life has not been the stuff of high drama. A bog-standard rocky marriage was due to Goffin’s wandering eye and acid use, and that’s it.
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.
London Evening Standard
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.