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“I think it really emphasises and highlights what a strong person she was and how incredible her mind was to be able to take such negative moments and turn them into these beautiful songs for people that relate to them now to this day”
– Molly-Grace Cutler
This month, host Martin Ballard spends time in the rehearsal room for the new Made at Curve production of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, where he speaks to Director Nikolai Foster, performers Molly-Grace Cutler, Tom Milner, Jos Slovick and Seren Sandham-Davies, as well as on-stage Musical Director and performer Dan de Cruz.
Long before she was Carole King, the chart-topping music legend, she was an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Beautiful 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 becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history.
This new production of the Grammy, Olivier and Tony Award-winning musical is directed by Nikolai Foster, who recently led Curve’s five-star, “world-class” (The Daily Telegraph) production of A Chorus Line. Speaking about kicking off a new year of Made at Curve productions, Nikolai says “it’s a joy to be working on this show and all of these incredible songs. You don’t quite realise that you’re a Carole King fan until you work on Beautiful!”
On playing the legendary King, Molly-Grace Cutler talks about the “big lightbulb moment” upon discovering the struggles that Carole faced, which provided a lot of source material for her songs and in turn the heart of the production. “All of us in the room were very shocked at how much she actually went through, and surpassing our show what she continued to go through,” says Molly. In the episode, Molly also talks of her own journey to performing and her personal growth in being diagnosed as neurodivergent.
Portraying real people on stage as opposed to fictional characters means that “you have to do your homework,” addresses Tom Milner, who plays Carole’s husband Gerry in the show. “That forces you to delve into their journeys and their lives, and Gerry and Carole’s life and the songs that they wrote are just amazing!”
Whilst the show centres around the turbulent marriage and songwriting partnership of Carole and husband Gerry, it also explores the relationship between fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. “It’s so interesting exploring those relationships and the conflict within them behind the love,” says Seren Sandham-Davies (Cynthia), commenting that “the two couples act as a foil in some ways but then they share so many similarities.”
Finally in this month’s conversation, Martin finds out more about what makes this an actor-muso production with Musical Director Dan de Cruz (who also performs in the show as Righteous Brother and Neil Sedaka). “We’re all playing as well as singing and dancing and acting, so we’ve had to work on the music first because without knowing the music there’s nothing for us to work to” he says, adding, “Nikolai is amazing with the way he sees it happen and the inclusivity of all the instruments.”
Celebrate the Beautiful music of Carole King later this month, as Beautiful – The Carole King Musical runs at Curve from 28 February to 12 March, before embarking on a UK tour. To find out more and book now, visit www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical/