(4 / 5)
This is an enchanting show which is both pacey and entertaining. It follows the early life story of Carole King, an aspiring young American songwriter and musician who teamed up with her then partner and later husband, Gerry Goffin, moving to Manhattan to compose songs to sell to other artists in the 1960’s – some of the most evocative and iconic songs of their generation. The plot shows the struggles and frustrations facing the fledgeling composers and how they were controlled and ultimately manipulated by the dog eat dog nature of the music industry. We witness each song constructed in their purest form, before being transformed into full production numbers sung by various top chart artists and groups, from The Drifters and Aretha Franklin to James Taylor and The Shirelles and Neil Sedaka and King herself.
The audience were engrossed by the litany of hits which were performed most authentically, proceeding to sing along to the likes of ‘Locomotion’, ‘Natural Woman’, ‘Will you Still Love me Tomorrow’, ‘You’ve got a friend’ and ‘Take good care of my Baby’ to name but a few.
I particularly enjoyed the staging which was very effective, without fuss and with efficient transitions. We were transported from one location to another by way of an array of moving rostra and backdrops creating the perfect mood and atmosphere for each scene. Costumes were in keeping with the style, reminding us of the quirky, colourful fashion of this heady creative period.
However, without doubt the main highlight was the music – the crisp, vibrant band arrangements by the eminent Steve Sidwell to the well known tunes and songs written by Carole King. The majority were sung with vigour and enthusiasm by a number of the talented ensemble cast.
The performances of the two main characters – Daisy Wood Davis as King and Adam Gillian as Goffin – were believable and emotional with lovely interaction. They were accompanied by many other actors who sang and danced and multi roled throughout the show providing a very compelling overall experience for the audience.
I thoroughly enjoyed my evening with these 60s legends and it was very pleasing to see the Donald Gordon Theatre full and bopping to the hits. If you are around, check it out – I’m certain you won’t be disappointed. You’ll no doubt feel the earth move and you won’t want to get out of this place!! The production is in Cardiff until March the 14th before resuming their UK tour.