Her real name was Carole Klein. Just a Jewish kid from Manhattan who could play a mean piano – thank to the piano lessons her mum organised – and she also had a way with writing songs.
The show starts with her as a teenager, going with her girlfriend to the Brill Building, the Big Apple’s famous songwriting factory, to sing them a few of her songs. A cynical, hard edged producer by the name of Don Kirshner (Mike McLeish) gives her a listen and straight away picks up that she’s got some talent.
So began Carole’s one in a trillion journey where she went on to record Tapestry, one of the best selling albums of all time, and become one of popular music’s songwriting superstars.
The show doesn’t tell the whole Carole King story. Far from it. It closes fairly early on in her illustrious career with her performing a sell out concert at Carnegie Hall.
I loved this show. Everything about it. The production values – when you have renowned Broadway music theatre maestro Marc Bruni directing you are in very safe hands. The flashy costumes and sets. The smooth scene changes. The lightness of touch, with plenty of comic moments.
For a long time, working away at the Brill Factory, Carole with her husband Gerry Goffin (Josh Piterman), recorded songs for other artists to perform, as did their also legendary colleagues, Cynthia Weil (Amy Lehpamer) and Barry Mann (Mat Verevis).
One of the big highlights is seeing the different cameos of groups such as The Drifters, The Shirelles, the Righteous Brothers. Jason Arrow’s turn as Neil Sedaka (who famously wrote his song Oh Carol about his friend and colleague), poking his head out from behind the curtain, was great fun.
The show is, of-course, a perfect vehicle for a lovely young leading lady to showcase her talents. Esther Hannaford does just that in an exemplary fashion. I suspect that we all fell in love with her portrayal of Carole.
The performance ended on a perfect note. Hannaford, centre stage, pounding away at the keyboards, singing Beautiful – ‘You’ve got to get up in the morning/and put a smile on your face/and show the world/all the love in your heart/Then people are going to treat you better/And you will find/ You are as beautiful as you feel.’
We all felt beautiful after seeing this memorable show made with such loving care. Go see! BEAUTIFUL : THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL is now playing the Sydney Lyric Theatre. Performances Tuesdays at 7pm, Wednesdays at 1pm and 8pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm and Sundays at 3pm.