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King Of All Musicals - Beautiful
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
photo by Birgit & Ralf Brinkhoff
When a theatre critic thinks 'I would pay my own money to see this' you know he's watching something either a bit special or truly entertaining.

'Beautiful, The Carole King Musical' most definitely falls into the latter category and is genuinely one of the most entertaining musicals around.

And what superb performances by Bronte Barbe, in the title role, and those wonderful actors at her side who made the leading lady's light shine that much brighter.

photo by Birgit & Ralf Brinkhoff
So-called juke box musicals usually overwhelm you with a string of hits, candy flossed into renewed life by good voices and beautiful young things cavorting around the stage with the vigour of newly born kangaroos!

However, it would be an insult to 'Beautiful' to so readily dismiss it as a juke box musical, for it was a show with stunning music, held together by a true-life story and a strong book.

Also by Phil Hopkins...
Bradford Festival Choral – We Will Remember
Zamboanga - A Very Special Love Affair
Jools Holland To Open Scarborough Spa’s Summer Season
Writing As Your New Career – And Having Fun In The Process!
Rain Man Brings Sunshine To Leeds Grand
And therein lies the difference. There is rarely a substitute for the vagaries, twists and turns of real life for that is where all the great storylines come from - Lennon, Glenn Miller, Charlie Chaplin.

But here was a surprise. Carole Joan Klein, aka Carole King, was the wallflower songwriter for so long, producing dozens of classics for other artistes before deciding to sing her own ballads and delivering the landmark album, Tapestry, which went on to sell 25 million copies.

It was a life of frustrated, unrequited love, turbulence and passion, so well presented by scriptwriter, Douglas McGrath.

Pulling a life together into something workable for the stage is a challenge, and a talent, in itself, but McGrath achieved it seamlessly, lacing his 'book' with more Brooklyn Yiddish humour than you'd hear quoted in a Moortown synagogue; wonderful.

"I'm just saying" repeats King's mother, the wonderfully Jewish Carol Royle as Genie Klein, every time she needs to find a euphemism for 'I told you so'.

photo by Birgit & Ralf Brinkhoff
And those fantastic actors, Matthew Elliot-Campbell, Khalid Daley, Matt Mills and Simeon Montague.... euphemistically called the Ensemble, but, as The Drifters, with more moves than a posse of ninjas in a ferret bag; brilliant!

This was a thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining musical and I strongly recommend it for a mid-week tonic or, at worst, a weekend outing but, be quick, you only have until this Saturday to catch it. Go if you love the 50's, 60's and 70's or the music of Carole King, Sedaka or The Drifters. No beehives required!

Beautiful the Carole King Musical
Leeds Grand Theatre
Until Saturday

King Of All Musicals - Beautiful, 30th May 2018, 16:00 PM