Reviewed by Chiara Ravnik
The musical written by the Oscar, Emmy, BAFTA and Tony Award-nominated Douglas McGrath, directed by Marc Bruni and choreographed by Josh Prince, takes us through the rise and fall of Carole King, including her troubled marriage to Gerry Goffin and her most memorable hits.
Leading lady Esther Hannaford did an astounding job at encapsulating Carole King in a driven and empowering way. Her vocals painted a youthful charm that certainly developed in character as the character matured. Her comic timing, drew the audience in and made them feel at one with the piece, while showcasing Carole King's one in a million personality. An amazing performance by Hannaford as she physically and emotionally became indistinguishable from the character, allowing the audience to experience great depth and inspiring growth.
Leading man Josh Piterman delivers a solid performance as King's husband and lyricist, Gerry Goffin. Piterman convincingly conveyed an emotional roller-coaster, highlighted by his carefully considered portrayal of the pain and suffering experienced over the course of his relationship with King. At times it was almost unbearably uncomfortable to see Piterman in such a state, due to his raw emotion and powerful impact on the audience. At times, this found the audience's ability to connect to be strained, though can be forgiven and even welcomed in considering the unique experience and insight this gave the audience into the very real struggles of such a prolific character.
Lucy Maunder played the sassy lyricist, Cynthia Weil. Her performance was sharp, sassy confident and witty comedic humour allowed her female strength to shine through. The audience craved more Maunder as she was a definite highlight.
Matt Verevis shone as Barry Mann. His comedic timing was impeccable, and his voice lifted the room. Verevis incredible voice highlighted the true talent present within this glamorous cast. Verevis played a subtly flawed character, who sung with unwavering beauty.
A special mention goes to Jason Arrow who played Neil Sedaka, His “Oh Carole!” was priceless. The true highlight of the night. Congratulations to Jason Arrow for making his Music Theatre debut.
The ensemble went from strength to strength, bringing to life choreography and vocal stylings that was not only engaging, but at times, entirely captivating.
The costumes and set were “all kinds of wonderful”. They were true to the era and complimented each character. Every costume was flattering and ideally painted a picture of the era and life of the “earth moving” Carol King. Lighting was impeccable and was vital in creating the spectrum of emotions that this production explores.
A truly polished gem and beautifully uplifting musical.