Confessions' of a Free Spirit

A Beautiful performance

By Alison Brennan

The 1st of July was a cold winter's day in Melbourne as the final curtain closed on the musical "Beautiful" at Her Majesty's Theatre. But for the audience inside it was anything but cold as the heartwarming story of Carole King came to life. 

Born in New York in 1942, Carole's love of music surfaced at an early age, and by the time she was 16 she had already written several songs. However she was often critical of her own lyrics. When she was introduced to lyricist Gerry Goffin, a partnership began and they would become one of the most successful song writing duos in music history. 

"Beautiful" portrays the partnership of Carole and Gerry - the professional highs and the personal lows. It also explores the competitive but strong friendship the pair had with fellow songwriters Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann.

The star of the show, Esther Hannaford is superb as Carole. Her powerful vocals take the audience on a journey as they rejoice in the songs of triumph and empathize with the songs of heartbreak. After Carole and Gerry part ways, the musical focuses on her quest for independence as she stops writing hits for other artists and embarks on a solo career. As the audience wills her to succeed, "Beautiful" fittingly ends with the completion of her multi award winning masterpiece, Tapestry.

"Beautiful" is wonderfully written. It is full of tear jerking moments and laugh out loud humour. The supporting cast of singers and dancers do an outstanding job, notably Josh Piterman who as Gerry plays both equal parts of charmer and villain. Every song performed brings an ovation with such hits as "it's too late", "natural woman", "I feel the Earth move" and "will you love me tomorrow"?

I was fortunate enough to meet Esther after the final show in Melbourne. She was gracious as she mingled with fans who thanked her for a performance that truly lived up to it's title.