It’s been a sensation across the globe and it promises to live up to those expectations here in Sydney. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical had its Australian premiere and opening night at the Sydney Lyric on Saturday 23rd – and what a glitzy affair it was! Red Carpet arrivals included some of the biggest names in Australian theatre, entertainment, music, and politics- including the Prime Minister.
The show is spectacular with a sushi train of classic hits, thrilling dance numbers, impressive sets, genuine laughs, and first rate performances.
If the star-peppered audience on opening night is anything to go by, it should be a resounding success. They applauded after every song and even after some killer dialogue, and there was a spontaneous and unanimous standing ovation at the end. Director, Marc Bruni has been with the show from its San Francisco premiere in 2013, through Broadway, the West End and now in Sydney. He’s thrilled about coming to Australia and excited about working with the people here: “I was really astonished by the level of talent that we were able to assemble.”
When Bruni was first asked to direct the musical, he had a cursory knowledge of King’s music, but exposure to her songs and story have converted him to fandom. The musical covers the period in King’s life before she became a singer and Bruni reacted to her portfolio of songs the way he believes many audience members will:
“OMG I had no idea she wrote that…and that…and that!”
Along with King’s co-writer/husband Gerry Goffin, the show also features another incredibly successful songwriting duo, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Their hits include You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling and On Broadway.
“It’s an embarrassment of riches of songs!” says Bruni, but is quick to point out that it is not a mere parade of hits:
“We’re not taking the content of the song and trying to make them fit the plot…There’s nobody breaking down on the side of the road and needing help from someone named Rhonda.”
Instead, it’s a show about songwriting, about how songs are written, the inspiration and why they become hits. The songs are an integral part of the narrative, for instance, It’s Too Late is sung just after Carole leaves Gerry.
King herself resisted seeing the show initially, but has since been known to frequent different productions. She also has casting approval over the lead role. According to Bruni “she is very aware of Esther who is playing Carole here, and instantly approved her.”
Esther Hannaford is a multi-award winning theatre performer and herself a singer/songwriter. Bruni says each new “Carole” brings a different quality to their portrayal and he’s very excited about Hannaford’s skills.
“No matter who plays Carole, the audience always comes out and says ‘Oh My God, she’s just like Carole King!’”, Bruni explains.
With an ensemble cast playing some of the biggest names of the day, and a set inspired by the famous Brill Building songwriting factory, Bruni says
“I think it’s going to be a first rate production.”For details and to book visit : Sydney Lyric
[source: City Hub September 14, 2017 ]