Summer Holiday the Musical at MK Theatre

 NEW STAGE MUSICAL VERSION OF SUMMER HOLIDAY
AT MILTON KEYNES THEATRE

A brand new production of the feel- good musical, Summer Holiday, featuring Cliff Richard’s classic hits is at the Milton Keynes Theatre, until  Saturday 19 May.

Based on the iconic 1960’s film starring Cliff Richard and The Shadows, Summer Holiday includes all of the number one hits from the movie, plus some additional Cliff Richard classics.

Talking on the lead role of Don, made famous by Cliff Richard, is singer-songwriter Ray Quinn. Ray shot to fame as the runner-up in ITV1’s The X Factor in 2006. This spurned a career in both music and of late musicals, with his debut album ‘Doing it My Way’ entering the charts at Number 1, and quickly gaining platinum status. Ray is perhaps best known of late for ‘doing the double’ on ITV1’s hugely successful show Dancing on Ice, winning for the first time in 2009, and then again on Dancing on Ice: Champion of Champions in 2014. Ray’s theatre credits include Danny Zuko in Grease (West End), Dirty Dancing (West End), Legally Blonde (UK Tour) and most recently, The Wedding Singer (UK Tour).

The role of Jerry, the long-suffering agent, will be played by Bobby Crush. Famous in the UK for 45 years primarily as a pianist, but also as a songwriter, actor, broadcaster and television presenter, Bobby rose to fame after six winning appearances on Opportunity Knocks (ITV). West End successes include three seasons at the London Palladium alongside Jack Jones, Vic Damone and Dame Julie Andrews. He also spent a year with Max Bygraves in SwingalongaMax at the Victoria Palace and was chosen to appear for Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother at The Royal Variety Performance. Bobby has also appeared in four musicals starring as Dr. Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Show, Vernon Gersch in They’re Playing Our Song, L.M. in Pump Boys and Dinettes and Billy Flynn in Chicago at top theatres around the United Kingdom. Bobby’s debut album ‘Bobby Crush’ reached the UK top 20, and he plays the role of Pharaoh on Pickwick’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. TV credits include two series of Sounds Like Music (ITV) as the show’s host, and most recently, Bobby has been playing Billy Sparkle in the popular TV comedy Benidorm (ITV). In April Bobby will be seen on a major new series for ITV called Last Laugh in Vegas, which documents Bobby’s American debut alongside 7 other legendary British acts and their adventure to star in a Las Vegas show.

Sophie Matthew plays runaway singer, Barbara, with Taryn Sudding taking on the role of Stella, her controlling fame-hungry mother. Sophie is best known for playing the role of Sarah in Our House (UK Tour), and also played the role of Ginny in Humans (Channel 4). Taryn Sudding played Angie in the 1997 production of Summer Holiday. She is most well-known for playing Bombalurina in Cats across the world over a fourteen-year period, including in the original South African production. Other notable roles include Grace Farrell in Annie (South African Production), and Elsa in The Sound of Music (SA and international tour).

Summer Holiday tells the story of Don and his fellow London Transport mechanics as they journey together in a red double-decker bus through Paris, the Alps, Italy and Greece. Along the way they pick up a girl singing group and a young American pop star who is on the run from her domineering mother!

 

This hit-filled musical features many of 1960’s biggest songs including In the Country, Summer Holiday, Travellin’ Light, Bachelor Boy, Move It, Living Doll, The Young Ones and On the Beach.

Summer Holiday is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 19th May

Box Office: 0844 870 0887 or online:  www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

I went along to the press night with keen anticipation. Sadly, it turned out to be more of an exercise in how to put on a National Tour without spending too much! The set was made up of black drapes (very obviously hiding the bus, giant sliding panels of Travel Posters – and a bus.

The costumes, set, and the choreography all seemed to me to lack much inspiration or even imagination. Sure there were some sixties dance moves, but I got the impression that once they’d found half a dozen moves from that era, they made do, when in fact there were probably very many to choose from.

I can’t think why Ray Quinn’s management got him into this, surely they read the script? It was worthy of a local am-dram or at best an End of the Pier show. Ray is a fine, multi talented performer and did his best with some very poor material. It was good to see Bobby Crush, never happier it seems than when he’s wearing something outrageous! If you’ve not seen Bobby playing Dame in panto, you get an inkling from this performance.

My verdict? Most disappointing. If it was mine I’d keep the cast, keep the music, keep the finale and ditch the show! (or at least re-write it!)

Ernie Almond.

Children’s auditions for Nativity! The Musical

Following sold-out performances in London and a triumphant UK tour in 2017, Jamie Wilson, Entertainment One (eOne), Ramin Sabi and Belgrade Theatre Coventry are delighted to announce the return of Nativity! The Musical and are on the look-out for children across the UK to audition for the 2018 UK tour.

Bright, young stars from across the country will have a chance to sparkle and shine as one of the children from Oakmoor School. Auditions will be held around the country, coming to Milton Keynes on Saturday 30 June.

 Other dates include: Liverpool on 30 May, Oxford 9 June, Stoke 16 June, Coventry 7 July, Nottingham21 July and London 14 July. Auditions for both Edinburgh and Glasgow will be held in Edinburgh on the 23 June (children will need to be available to play both venues).

 All children auditioning must be:

 Children must be age 9-12 years old by 1st September 2018

Strictly no taller than 4ft 7inches

Children must live within 45 miles commute to the venue and be available to perform the playing dates of the venue they are auditioning for – tour dates listed below
Characterful but disciplined children with strong singing, acting and movement skills and with a passion for performing

 Nativity! The Musical is written and directed by the creator and director of the blockbuster film series, Debbie Isitt. Debbie said;

 ‘We are looking for characterful but disciplined children who can ‘act’ as snobby and superior and yet have a sense of fun and can give over the top performances if required.  We need the children to have good movement ability – marching, basic choreography and have excellent posture.  They should also be able to sing confidently, have basic acting ability and enjoy performing’.

Every child in every school has one Christmas wish, to star in a Nativity, and at St Bernadette’s School they’ve decided to mount a musical version! Join teacher Mr Maddens and his crazy assistant Mr Poppy as they struggle with hilarious children, and a whole lot of sparkle and shine to make everyone’s Christmas wish come true. Featuring all of your favourite sing-a-long songs from the smash-hit films including Sparkle and Shine, Nazareth and One Night One MomentNativity! The Musical promises to be the perfect feel-good comedy for all the family.

To audition, children must be pre-registered with Keston and Keston the Children’s Regional Casting Directors via the iOS App ‘Keston Casting- downloadable’ which can be downloaded for free via the app store or registration can be via the website www.kestonandkestoncasting.com.

 All children who fall within the criteria above will be sent an invite with full information and the location for the audition.

The Play That Goes Wrong – MK Theatre

The Play That Goes Wrong, the West End’s Olivier Award winning box office hit, sets off on its third major UK tour, visiting Milton Keynes Theatre, Monday 23 – Saturday 28 April.

Winning eleven international awards, including the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and a 2017 Tony Award for its Broadway transfer, The Play That Goes Wrong continues to play to sold out houses in the West End, whilst enjoying its new status as Broadway’s longest running play. It is a remarkable rags-to-riches story for a play, which started its life at a London fringe venue with only four paying members of the public at the first performance, and has since played to an audience of almost one and a half million worldwide. In 2017, The Play That Goes Wrong played simultaneously in twelve countries.

Co-written by Mischief Theatre company members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, The Play That Goes Wrong is a highly physical comedy packed with finely-tuned farce and Buster Keaton inspired slapstick delivered with split-second timing and ambitious daring. The play introduces The ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’ who are attempting to put on a 1920s’ murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does, as the accident prone thespians battle on against all the odds to get to their final curtain call.

Why would all these regional theatres want a return visit of our little murder mystery show when last year’s tour went so badly wrong. I am at a loss to understand it.” Producer, Kenny Wax

Mischief Theatre was founded in 2008 by a group of graduates of The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and began as an improvised comedy group. Their other production The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is now booking into its third year in the West End at the Criterion Theatre and their new improv show Mischief Movie Night opens in the West End on 13 December at the Arts Theatre.  The company is led by Artistic Director Henry Lewis and Company Director Jonathan Sayer.

The touring cast presents: Jake Curran (Chris), Catherine Dryden (Annie), Bobby Hirston (Max), Benjamin McMahon (Dennis), Gabriel Paul (Trevor), Steven Rostance (Jonathan), Kazeem Tosin Amore (Robert), Elena Valentine (Sandra) with David Kristopher-Brown (Understudy), Laura White (Understudy), Liam Horrigan (Understudy) and Louisa Sexton (Understudy).

The Play That Goes Wrong is directed by Mark Bell, with set designs by Nigel Hook, lighting by Ric Mountjoy and costumes by Roberto Surace. The Play That Goes Wrong is produced in the West End and on tour by Kenny Wax Ltd and Stage Presence Ltd.

The Play that Goes Wrong is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 28th April

Box Office: 0844 870 0887 or online:  www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

I went along early in the week and I would be less than truthful if I said all ran smoothly. The few minor technical hitches were cleverly covered up by this stellar cast led by actor/director Trevor (played by Gabriel Paul). I’m sure that with the help of a few nails, a hammer and a roll of gaffer tape all will be well by the time you see this – and see it you must if only to witness the best corpse in the business played by Steven Rostance.

New Musical by Sting comes to Royal & Derngate

The UK premiere of The Last Ship, with a Tony-nominated original score and lyrics by Sting, comes to Northampton’s Royal & Derngate from Tuesday 24 to Saturday 28 April, as part of a major UK and Ireland tour.

The Last Ship, which was initially inspired by Sting’s 1991 album The Soul Cages and his own childhood experiences, tells the story of a community amid the demise of the shipbuilding industry in Tyne and Wear, with the closure of the Swan Hunter shipyard.

This personal, political and passionate new musical is an epic account of a family, a community and a great act of defiance. It features an original score with music and lyrics by Sting as well as a few of his best-loved songs, Island of Souls, All This Time and When We Dance

When a sailor named Gideon Fletcher returns home from sea, he discovers the ship-building life he left behind in chaos. The local shipyard is closing and no-one knows what will come next. With the engine fired and pistons in motion, picket lines are drawn as foreman Jackie White and his wife Peggy fight to hold their community together in the face of the gathering storm.

Playing the part of Jackie White, Joe McGann is perhaps best known as Charlie Burrows in the comedy series The Upper Hand, with stage roles including Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls. Emmerdale star Charlie Hardwick takes the role Peggy White. Playing Gideon Fletcher, Richard Fleeshman’s stage roles include Sam Wheat in Ghost the Musical (West End and Broadway).

The Last Ship is at the Royal & Derngate from 24th to 27 April.

Box Office on 01604 624811 or online at www.royalandderngate.co.uk.

 

New cast for Hairspray

The Cast has been announced for the major UK tour of Smash-hit musical  HAIRSPRAY  at Milton Keynes until 14th April

Norman Pace (ITV1’s The Hale and Pace Show) will play Wilbur Turnblad, he will be joined by Matt Rixon (The Ladykillers, Around the World in 80 Days) reprising his role as Edna Turnblad,

 

musical theatre star Brenda Edwards (Chicago, We Will Rock You, The X Factor) returning as Motormouth Maybelle and Layton Williams (Bad Education, Rent) now starring as Seaweed. Gina Murray (Chicago and Full Monty) joins the cast as Velma Von Tussle with Jon Tsouras (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Crazy for You) once again playing Corny Collins; Edward Chitticks (On the Town, Mamma Mia) as Link Larkin; Aimee Moore as Amber Von Tussle and Annalise Liard-Bailey as Penny Pingleton.

Rebecca Mendoza will make her professional debut as Tracy Turnblad.

Featuring the iconic music and lyrics by Academy Award, Tony and Emmy winning duo Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, this big, bold and beautiful production is choreographed by Olivier Award-winning Drew McOnie with direction from Paul Kerryson.

It’s Baltimore 1962, where Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, is on a mission to follow her dreams and dance her way onto national TV. Tracy’s audition makes her a local star and soon she is using her new-found fame to fight for equality, bagging local heartthrob Link Larkin along the way.

Hairspray is a musical based on the 1988 film of the same name which starred Divine and Ricki Lake by cult filmmaker John Waters. With music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, Hairspray originally opened to rave reviews on Broadway in 2002 and subsequently won eight Tony Awards. The production opened in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2007 and won four Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Musical. Proving to be an international success, Hairspray has also opened in South Africa, Japan, South Korea, China and Dubai. Following the musical’s phenomenal success on stage, a film of the musical was released in 2007 which starred John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and James Marsden.

Hairspray is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 14th April

Box Office: 0844 870 0887 or online:www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Unlike the last time I saw Hairspray, this production was fun, energetic, really tight and overflowing with good performances! Firstly, congratulations to Rebecca Mendoza – if her debut professional performance is this good, she’s heading for stardom! Then we had the fabulous Layton Williams as Seaweed – fabulously acrobatic dancing and owned the stage for every second he was on it. Brenda Edwards, for once working on home territory proved once again that she has one of the richest, most powerful voices in British Musical Theatre, she’s always a complete joy to interview and to experience when she lights up the entire theatre with every entrance she makes. Norman Pace was not on the night I went, but Wilbur was in the very capable hands of ??????? (He should have been given much more credit!)  To my mind, one of the best Edna Turnblads, Matt Rixon gave his usual impeccable performance or perhaps I should say Outstanding rather than usual!

With a truly fine band onstage throughout, I can only advise those of you that have seen Hairspray before to get a ticket and bask in this production’s polished difference – and those who have never seen it DO NOT MISS THIS! 

Hairspray is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 14th April

Box Office: 0844 870 0887 or online:  www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

I’m not Crazy for this Crazy for you!

 Claire Sweeney takes on the role of ‘Irene’, Tom Chambers plays ‘Bobby’ and Charlotte Wakefield  ‘Polly’ in the national tour of the Watermill Theatre’s production of CRAZY FOR YOU, at Milton Keynes Theatre, until Sat 24 March.

Claire Sweeney has a television and theatre career which spans over 20 years. She is probably best known for playing the role of Lindsey Corkhill in Brookside. Other television credits include Clocking Off and Merseybeat along with a presenting role on 60 Minute Makeover and a panellist on ITV’s Loose Women. Claire’s West End roles include Roxie Hart in Chicago and Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. Claire previously played the title role in Educating Rita at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory and prior to that, played Paulette in the UK tour of the award winning Legally Blonde. She most recently appeared as Baroness Bomburst in the National Tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Tom Chambers created the role of Jerry Travers in the West End musical Top Hat, for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical. In 2008 he won the 6th season of Strictly Come Dancing. He can currently be seen in the hit BBC drama Casualty. His recent stage credits include Private Lives and White Christmas in the West End.

Crazy For You UK Tour
Photo Credit : The Other Richard

Charlotte Wakefield made her West End debut as Wendla in Spring Awakening, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award. She played Maria in the critically acclaimed production of The Sound of Music at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre receiving nominations for Best Actress in a Musical at both the Evening Standard and Olivier Awards.

High energy, high kicking and gloriously glamorous, CRAZY FOR YOU is the ultimate feel-good musical with a fabulous score from the Gershwin brothers’ songbook. Mistaken identities, plot twists, heartbreak, happiness and a wealth of memorable tunes, including I Got Rhythm, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Nice Work If You Can Get It and Embraceable You, all feature in this celebration of the great Broadway musicals.

Crazy For You is at The Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 24th March

 Box Office: 0844 870 0887 online: www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

I went along to see the show, these are my thoughts:

With a fine looking set of the dilapidated theatre, and some very fine musicians/actors/singers/dancers – yes they had all those skills, a quadruple threat! = we were all set for a fantastic musical,

So where on earth did it go wrong? Well, with gags seemingly added willy-nilly presumably borrowed from the local pantomime (“You’re one step away from an idiot” etc) some very laboured comedy routines, especially early in act two with the two Bela Zanglers routine with its very careful moves going on forever, not to our leading man mention getting down from the balcony with a bucket which Norman Wisdom would’ve made hilarious. As the show opened originally in October 1930 I was surprised to hear “simples” and “health & safety” as throw away gags.

Claire Sweeney’s one song “Naughty Baby” could have had the  seductiveness of Marilyn Munro or even played for comedy, it floundered somewhere in between. I thought Tom Chambers in this was miscast, he’s not exactly another Tommy Tune or Tim Flavin! Tap dancing is hard work, but the masters manage to make it look easy, Tom’s efforts looked mechanical and exhausting, the lounge suit he spent a lot of time in didn’t help flapping all over the place. The last straw for me was when Bobby came through the fourth wall and handed his bottle of beer to and audience member to look after, purely to set up the gag that the man had apparently drunk the contents of the bottle!  I haven’t felt quite like that since Za Za in the recent tour of La Cage Aux Folles stopped the show to go into a panto routine with the audience!

Most of the supporting cast were terrific, some of them playing several instruments and still managing to stay in character, special mention I think to Ned Rudkins-Stow great musician with a fine voice who I’d not seen before, but my guess is that we’ll all see quite a bit more of this young man. The same goes for Seren Sandham-Davis playing Dim but adorable Patsy.

You might have guessed by now that I was not Crazy for this production of Crazy For You – sorry, George & Ira!

Ernie Almond

Crazy For You is at The Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 24th March

 Box Office: 0844 870 0887 online: www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Fancy a Look Backstage at The Royal & Derngate?

Take a trip behind the curtain at Royal & Derngate

Theatre enthusiasts can enjoy a unique backstage tour experience, with a wonderful storyteller taking them behind the curtain, to explore the unseen areas of The Royal. The next Behind The Curtain tours are scheduled for Friday 23 March.

Visitors will be taken back in time, starting from the opening night in 1884, and will hear the real life stories of people who created, performed in or watched shows at the theatre throughout the decades. They may even meet the theatre’s resident ghost along the way! There is also the chance to discover how Made In Northampton productions are created with a visit to Royal & Derngate’s workshop and paintshop.

Behind The Curtain is an engaging theatrical tour for suitable groups, schools and individuals and lasts approximately 90 minutes. Customers are advised to wear flat shoes. Tickets are £13* each and can be booked by calling Royal & Derngate Box Office on 01604 624811. The next tour available on Friday 23 March starting at 1.30pm and 3.30pm.

In addition exclusive tours can be arranged for groups, and there is also a special version of the tour for primary schools, including an option to visit the Derngate auditorium control room and have a go at operating the lights.

Unfortunately, the standard tour is not suitable for those with access requirements, but accessible tours suitable for those with access needs, hearing or visual impairment are available with prior booking. Please contact erica.martin@royalandderngate.co.uk for further information or to book a primary school, exclusive or accessible tour.

* A charge of £3 applies for all transactions of £15 and over. Does not apply to Groups, Friends or Disabled Patrons, and is per-transaction, not per-ticket.

Fat Friends the Musical arrives at Milton Keynes!

Fat Friends the Musical is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 10th March

The hit TV show Fat Friends from award-winning national treasure Kay Mellor (creator of Girlfriends, Love, Lies & Records, Band of Gold, The Syndicate and In The Club) has burst onto the stage in a brand new musical, with original music by Nick Lloyd Webber.

Join the infamous group of TV’s most loveable characters as they are put through their Zumba paces at their local branch of Super Slimmers by the lovelorn Lauren whilst Kelly fantasises about fitting into the wedding dress of her dreams.

Packed full of hope, humour, love and weight loss, this new stage show reunites our favourite foodie friends and sell-out audiences are loving it!

With an all-star cast including West End favourite and winner of the BBC’s I’d Do AnythingJodie PrengerX Factor winner Sam Bailey, Atomic Kitten’s pop sensation Natasha Hamilton, star of Emmerdale and Wicked Natalie Anderson and Coronation Street legend Kevin Kennedy,

Fat Friends The Musical is a feel-good night out for every body and is a HUGE hit!

★★★★
‘Super-sized fun with a fantastic cast. A very funny show!’
Huddersfield Examiner

Fat Friends the Musical is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 10th March

Box Office: 0844 870 0887 or online: www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

NATIONAL THEATRE’S HEDDA GABLER COMES TO MILTON KEYNES THEATRE

Following a sold-out run at the National Theatre’s Lyttelton Theatre, the NT has embarked on a UK tour of its acclaimed production of Hedda Gabler and is at Milton Keynes Theatre 27 February – 3 March.

Lizzy Watts plays the title role along with Madlena Nedeva (Berte), Christine Kavanagh (Juliana), Abhin Galeya (Tesman), Annabel Bates (Thea), Adam Best (Brack) and Richard Pyros (Lovborg).

Just married. Bored already. Hedda longs to be free…

This vital new version of Ibsen’s masterpiece by Olivier and Tony Award-winning playwright Patrick Marber (Closer, Three Days in the Country) is directed by Ivo van Hove, one of the world’s most exciting directors. Olivier and Tony Award-winning van Hove made his National Theatre debut with Hedda Gabler, which ran in repertoire at the NT’s Lyttelton Theatre during 2017. .

Lizzy Watts’ theatre credits include Strife at Chichester Festival Theatre, The Angry Brigade and Artefacts at The Bush, A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Globe, Blink for Nabokov and Wasted for Paines Plough. TV includes The Durrells and Midsommer Murders and plays Ivy Layton in BBC Radio 4’s Home Front.

 Hedda Gabler is at  Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 3rd March.

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online: atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Hedda Gabler herself is not a nice person. Having just got married for all the wrong reasons, she comes back from honeymoon and quickly feels trapped. She’s witty, cunning, vicious and vivacious. Sadly for her and those around her she vents her frustrations upon those people that if she were normal she might love – and love dearly

.Set and lighting design for Hedda Gabler is by Jan Versweyveld. The play is set in the newly-wed’s apartment. Large and so far sparsely furnished. Hedda herself mentions that the room is all wrong and its hard to breathe. It was so huge that I would have thought breathing was one of the few things you could do in comfort, this room reminded me of the Amazon building. Just a very large  white square panelled box with a French windows onto an imaginary balcony. There were no doors, so the cast (frequently) entered and left via the audience – a move that I thought was distracting and almost reminiscent of pantomime.

The highly experienced and more than capable cast all gave fine performances – even whilst galloping backwards and forwards up and down the aisles and steps from the auditorium onto the stage!

As you might expect, there was a fair amount of precious arty nonsense being trotted out in the foyer, one person was heard to sum up those comments with “Isn’t it wonderful! I love it when a play really makes you think……………….I had to ask my friend with me to explain it all to me!” Yes I’m afraid there is an amount of The Emperor’s New Clothes about Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler – we’ve all been told just how wonderful it is for so many years………

Ernie Almond.

Hedda Gabler is at  Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 3rd March.

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online: atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical is just that!

BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL, Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 24 February.

BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL received its Broadway premiere in January 2014 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre where it continues to play to packed houses and throughout 2015/2016 it toured the US. The London production ended its triumphant two and a half year run at the Aldwych in August.

BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL has a book by Douglas McGrath with words and music by Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.  The show tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history.

Along the way, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation, including one of the best-selling albums of all time, Tapestry, and countless classics such as (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Take Good Care of My Baby, You’ve Got a Friend, So Far Away, It Might as Well Rain Until September, Up on the Roof and The Locomotion. The show also includes the Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann hit songs You’ve Lost that Lovin Feeling, On Broadway and We Gotta Get out of This Place.

Bronté Barbé plays Carole King, she was a finalist in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s BBC1 television series “Over The Rainbow” in 2010. Since then she has appeared on stage in both London’s West End and around the UK. Previous credits include “Cool Rider” in the West End and ‘Princess Fiona’ in the UK Tour of “Shrek -The Musical”. She most recently starred in “The Wild Party” at The Other Palace.

Kane Oliver Parry (playing Gerry Goffin) has starred in “Carousel” and “Sweeney Todd” at London’s Coliseum. West End credits include “Wicked” and “Urinetown”, “The Light Princess” at the National Theatre and the International Arena Tour of “We Will Rock You”.

BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL, is at  Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 24 February.

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online: atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Jhez Bermudez went along to see the show in Milton Keynes and these are his thoughts:

I was not sure what to expect when I went along to see Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, but I needn’t have worried – it does what it says on the tin! It is beautiful! With a strong story, a stellar cast lead by a stunningly good performance by Bronte Barbe, fabulous music with a very good live orchestra lead by Patrick Hurley, strong acting against some brilliant sets designed by  Derek McLane what was there not to like?

Apart from being a very good true story that was approved by the great lady herself, Beautiful brings home to you just what a prolific songwriter Carole King has been. Her first professional recording when she was sixteen, the names of other singers that have recorded her songs reads like a who’s who of the International music industry. As for Carole’s own recordings, although her album Tapestry usually springs to mind, this show reminds us that quite apart from writing for others, she has recorded no less than 25 studio albums.

All these facts and figures would mean nothing if the show itself weren’t presented with such panache and slick professionalism. Whether you prefer Celine Dion to Mariah Carey or Aretha Franklin to James Taylor there is something for you in this show – and if you’re very lucky you might – just might – get a ticket!  Thoroughly recommended!