Beautiful - The Carole King Musical

Beautiful Carole King Musical Adelaide Fringe 2020★★★★★

Davine Productions. Star Theatres. 20 Feb 2020


Rave, rave, rave! Davine have done it again! 

Methinks Producer / Director David Gauci is going to need a bigger awards shelf at the Davine production offices. Beautiful – The Carole King Musical is a theatrical triumph, and what’s more comprises an entirely local cast!


The jukebox musical, with book by Douglas McGrath, tells the story of Carole Joan Klein (stage name Carole King), from her discovery by Don Kirshner and employment at the Brill Building in 1958, through to her transition onto the stage as a performer in her own right in the late 1970s.


The story tracks the highs and lows of King’s career and marriage to Gerry Goffin, and cleverly intersperses many of her and Goffin’s greatest hits, still recognised today as standards of the genre.


Gauci and Davine Productions are no strangers to success, having produced multiple award-winning productions; this show undoubtedly will be added to that list.


Gauci has assembled a stellar cast (where does he find them?) of spectacular young triple threats who could have performed out of a cardboard box and still blown our socks off. Gauci's simple yet wonderfully techy set is brought vividly to life by Shenayde Wilkinson-Sarti’s delicious choreography, Tim Bates' lighting, and Louise Watkins wonderful costumes. The theatre is filled to the rafters with the awesome sound and musical stylings of Peter Johns' band, all perfectly amplified by Allpro Audio. This production is second to none.


The ensemble cast completely own their time in the spotlight, and special mentions are warranted for Jordan Coulter, Carly Meakin, Louisa Vilinne, Alisa James, and Anthony Vawser, for their solo renditions of various numbers which were all vocally spectacular.


Choreographers love it when dancers are up for a challenge, and Wilkinson-Sarti must have relished working with such a talented group. The big dance numbers reveal a choreographer and her dancers in perfect synchronicity; the energy and flow is electric and the choreography almost cinematic in its application. 


But in this cast full of leading men and ladies, it is the actual leads that completely steal the show. Kate Anolak delivers comedy gold as Carole’s mother, Genie Klein; Brendan Cooney is measured and mature, and provides perfect balance to the youthful enthusiasm of his musical prodigies; Joshua Kerr is all at once funny and sincere in his portrayal of Barry Mann, and as his lover and music writing partner Cynthia Weil, Maya Miller is all exuberance and class packaged with a pitch perfect singing voice and enviable stage presence.


Trevor Anderson lays it all on the line as manic Gerry Goffin in what surely must be one of his best performances to date; his characterisation delivers on the rollercoaster of emotions that provide the spring board for King’s emotional and musical inspiration. Anderson is absolutely engaging to watch, especially singing Up On The Roof and Pleasant Valley Sunday.


But it is Jemma McCulloch’s performance as Carole King that will have them talking for years to come. What McCulloch gives is more than just performance, it transcends the stage, she isn’t playing Carole King – she is Carole King. McCulloch’s smoky, sultry tones are all at once filled with desire, delight, sadness, and love. She has a tonality that draws you in and envelopes you, taking your breathe completely away. McCulloch could sing me the phone book and I'd listen for hours. Sign me up for the first copy of the cast album!


The entire season of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical sold out months prior to opening. So beg, borrow, or steal your way in, or prepare to live with the regret of missing one of 2020’s best local productions; a big, but easy call to make so early in the year!


Paul Rodda


When: 20 to 29 Feb

Where: Star Theatres