Apart from books, the great love of my life is theatre. I have secret dreams of one day performing at Shakespeare’s Globe. As I’m painfully aware, that’s one of those dreams that is very unlikely to ever come true so, in the meantime, I’m sticking to going to the theatre as much as I can (or at least as much as my bank account will allow).
Back in March 2016, I went with my Mum to see ‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical’ at London’s Aldwych theatre. My Mum has been a fan of Carole King’s for as long as I can remember and it’s definitely a love that has been inherited by me. That day came in the middle of a very difficult and stressful time and it has always stuck in my mind as being one of my happiest days in a very long time.
A few months ago, whilst mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, I saw that ‘Beautiful’ was going on tour and would, therefore, be ending its run in London. Mum and I had loved the show so much the first time that we were desperate to see it one last time before it closed. We were lucky enough to get tickets for the matinee performance on 5th August. The penultimate performance. Waiting in our seats for the show to start, we both said we had a pretty good memory, but, Mum and I were both surprised by how much we had forgotten. I had forgotten how funny the show was!
Waiting in our seats for the show to start, we both said we had a pretty good memory, but, Mum and I were both surprised by how much we had forgotten. I had forgotten how funny the show was! I’ve seen criticisms of the show, saying that it isn’t very dramatic, that audiences would be left wanting more detail about Carole King’s later life, her other marriages and the further success of her career. To me, this was precisely what I loved about it. Besides Carole tumultuous marriage to her high school boyfriend, there is no over the top drama. It’s the story of a young girl trying to pursue a career in the music industry whilst raising her children.
Cassidy Janson, who played Carole King in both performances that I saw, captured how shy Carole is but with a quiet confidence about her. In one of the most moving scenes of the show, she confronts her husband saying, “The girls deserve better… and so do I”, every woman in the audience applauded. As an audience member, you feel very protective of her, there was a real sense of wanting to see this young woman achieve everything she had been working so hard for. When Carole plays the first few notes of ‘Beautiful’ on the piano, stops and says “I can’t believe I’m performing at Carnegie Hall!” the only way to describe how I felt was proud.
An image that will always stay with me when I think about ‘Beautiful’ is the look on Cassidy Janson’s face during her curtain call. She looked like she had tears in her eyes. Maybe it was because she knew there was only one more show left, maybe it was the standing ovation she, and the rest of the cast were receiving. It reminded me how much theatre, acting and performance means to me and so many others. I left feeling inspired by the talent, passion and life of Carole King and every member of the cast. It was all kinds of wonderful!