Davine Productions has assembled a stellar cast for Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, currently playing a sold out season as part of the Adelaide Fringe. In the role of Carole King is Jemma McCulloch, who brings the character to life with conviction, passion, warmth and humility.
Beautiful is the story of Carole King’s rise to fame. Meeting her husband Gerry Goffin at 16 years old, starting a family, right through to personal struggles within their marriage. The successful songwriting duo produced hits for Neil Sedaka, The Shirelles, The Drifters, Little Eva, and the Righteous Brothers to name a few. Carole King and her husband wrote The Locomotion!
The professional production cancelled its Adelaide season last year, and was stoked to hear it had been picked up by a local theatre company. Carole King’s Tapestry album is on my favourite Spotify playlist and hailed as one of the most successful albums of all time – winning multiple Grammy awards and selling millions of copies.
The leads are extremely strong and of a professional standard namely Jemma McCulloch (Carole King) Trevor Anderson (Gerry Goffin) Maya Miller (Cynthia Weil ) Joshua Kerr (Barry Mann) Brendan Cooney (Donnie Kirschner) and Kate Anolak (Genie Klein).
Director David Gauci’s casting of a diverse range of talent should be applauded. He gives the opportunity for new talent to be involved and brings the best out in everyone, not just the leads. It was refreshing to see a diverse mix of different levels of experience, each given the chance to learn and grow.
Whereas some theatre companies tend to cast the same people over and over, Gauci believes in giving all talent a go, not just a selected few. The supporting cast and ensemble blended well, and those who made their musical theatre debut gave it their best shot – which made the production a standout.
The set design is incredible – the back of the stage used for the band and larger music numbers, and the front part where most of the dialogue and story took place. Each side had a screen projecting HD 3D images of various scenes (e.g. office, recording studio, Carnegie Hall, home) that were sharp, effective and totally realistic.
There were quick and seamless set changes and this clever effect took the production to the next level – especially during the more dynamic and high energy music numbers. Lighting and sound faultless, with no late cues, front of house clear and crisp, and sound mixed to the right level.
Music Director Peter Johns has perfected the authentic sound and tempos for the musical numbers. The musicians he’s pulled together for this production are of a high standard, punchy, tight and sound true to the era.
Choreography by Sheynade Wilkinson-Sarti is simple yet dynamic. Keep in mind that some of the supporting cast made their musical theatre debut. The dancing was effective, tight and pretty sharp. Costume Designer Louise Watkins put a lot of thought and creativity into the costumes to reflect the era, which can be challenging and managed to do a great job.
Part Jersey Boys, part Leader of the Pack, part Friends – this is one of the best independent theatre productions I’ve seen in Adelaide. Gauci is breathing a fresh new approach into Adelaide productions, and has excelled with Beautiful The Carole King Musical. The sell out season, and standing ovation was well deserved – Jemma McCulloch (Carole King) along with many of the cast have a bright future ahead of them.
Finally, a thank you to Carole King for without her personal struggles and pain, there’d be no Tapestry album and hits like Natural Woman, It’s Too Late, You’ve Got A Friend and I Feel The Earth Move.
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
The Star Theatre, 145 Sir Donald Bradman Drive, Hilton (Adelaide)
Performance: Tuesday 25 February 2020
Season continues to 29 February 2020
For more information, visit: www.davineproductions.com for details.
Image: Beautiful – The Carole King Musical – photo by Andy Trimmings
Review: Betty Samis – courtesy of All About Entertainment