Saturday June 10, 2017 7:30PM @ Aldwych Theatre
Cast: Cassidy Janson, Dominic Hodson (u/s), Stephanie McKeon, Matthew Gonsalves (u/s), Vicki Manser (u/s), Joseph Prouse
“You’ve got to get up every morning, with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart…”
The words of Carole King have never been so poignant in these troubled times, and there’s this gem of a musical to show us why. This weekend I felt I was long overdue to re-visit, as I first saw the show almost nine months ago, and yes, for a theatre crazy like me, that’s a long time to not see the same show in.
Well, where do I begin. The show is just a joy the entire way through. From the opening scenes you are invested in a young Carole who is learning her craft of in the music industry. The story is essentially her life as she attempts to build a career, fall in love, and ultimately struggle through that love in her troubled marriage to Gerry Goffin. The score is hit after hit, including “On Broadway,” “The Locomotion,” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”. All three of these performances on Saturday night were incredible. The ensemble is vocally one of the strongest currently on the West End, everyone gives their all and there is no holding back, the vocal harmonies and high notes were on point – I got so many chills from my amazing second row seat!
The music is of course at its finest towards the end of the show when Carole steps up to create her album. Hits like “It’s Too Late,” “Natural Woman” and the title song boast the biggest audiences reactions (the party of five women in front of me proved great entertainment!) and rightfully so, the real-life Gerry Goffin was an inspired lyricist and King’s melodies are to this day, unforgettable. It’s visually perfect too – the sets and costumes are brilliant and the choreography consistently slick.
So I’m sure I would enjoy the show equally as much without a particular someone although this woman brings it to a whole other level. Cassidy Janson is a superstar. Her portrayal of Carole King is one of the most sincere, emotionally charged, unique leading lady performances I have seen in a long time and she has the most incredible voice that suits the material perfectly. There’s always that fear that audiences (and producers, I imagine) have, is this performer going to “be like the original?” (the original of course, being Ms King herself), but there is no problem like that in this case. After she is done with the show I would love more than anything for her to go back to Wicked, I never saw her as Elphaba but I so want that to happen right now!
The talent in this cast just amazes me! I always enjoy Joseph Prouse, who gave a brilliant Donnie Kirshner again. It was an understudy-heavy show on Saturday and great to see new people in the roles of Gerry Goffin (a commanding Dominic Hodson), Barry Mann (the great Matthew Gonsalves) and Carole’s mother Glenie Klein (Vicki Manser), as well as new addition, the sassy and scene-stealing Stephanie McKeon as Cynthia Weil. Granted Manser did a fantastic job, I just couldn’t help but think she was far too young to play the mother, which is both a compliment and criticism I guess: but then it is sometimes inevitable that a show must muddle through such an absence when all you have is a young cast.
What else can I say about the show apart from, if you have seen it, go back again, and if you haven’t, go now before its August 5th closing. It’s such a shame and I’m deeply saddened that the West End has to loose a phenomenal show like this, I feel so lucky to have seen it – it’s without a doubt the absolute best jukebox musical I have ever seen and one of my favourite musicals of all-time! So much so I’ve booked again! And again! Two more times to experience this wonder, including the anticipated emotional final show; and while I’m also gutted, I know it’s going to go out with a bang! I cannot wait for that!
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical is at the Aldwych Theatre through August 5, before commencing a UK Tour. For more theatre related shenanigans, visit my personal blog at stageytheatrelife.wordpress.com