I’m not the biggest fan of the rock musical finding it formulaic and more of a tribute concert than genuine musical. Thus when Daffers suggested I join her party for her South African visitor I was not 100% sure. In fact, I enjoyed it immensely, a moving tribute in words and music to one of the great songwriters, she wrote 61 songs which charted in the UK alone. A friend of mine a cerebral follower of music of that period calls her type of sound “teachers training music”. It’s true that it’s safe and melodic, but that seems unfair as over the years of a considerable career she wrote for the stars and herself and as the show revealed her life was contained in her songs.
Born in 1942 into a Jewish family called Klein in Brooklyn, her parents were divorced, she was something of a prodigy and aged 16 began to write her first songs. She soon met Gerry Goffin her creative and sometime life partner. Like many a creative persona he was a difficult man, his searching for ‘space’ was an excuse to put philandering ahead of domesticity. Carole was very much the hero, but the show never mentioned she had 4 husbands herself. The hits always flowed, no matter how music changed and her own album ‘Tapestry ‘was a huge success.
In the musical genre you have to master 3 disciplines singing, dancing and acting and few can do that. Cassidy Janson sang beautifully as Carole King, acted competently. Alan Morrissey as Gerry Goffin was more wooden as an actor whilst Lorna Want as her best friend Cyntia Weil was the best at singing and dancing. All the cast had to assume American accents, in Carole King’s case a Brooklyn one. You need above all fine music to carry a musical and from the dance number ‘Locomotion’ to the tearful reflection on the break up of with Gerry Goffin ‘It’s too late baby’ the score had variety and quality.
Let Bob Tickler have the last word
‘Having slept through Love and Friendship in the afternoon Beautiful was exuberant and uplifting and I did not look at my watch once.’