Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at The Star Gold Coast || Empowering triumphant story complete with an Earth-moving standing ovation

The Gold Coast felt the Earth move on opening night of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical presented by Matt Ward Entertainment and Layt Clinic at The Star Casino Gold Coast. The sensational smash-hit Broadway musical was an incredible heartwarming production that swept the Queensland audience off their feet as they were transported into the story of how the legendary singer-songwriter Carole King changed the music industry and became an icon.

The show was brilliantly cast as it showcased established theatre performers and up and coming local talent to breathe life into the big composers of the 60s, including Carole King, her husband Gerry Goffin and their friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. The ‘tapestry’ of familiar hit songs from the 60s and 70s woven into this jukebox musical made the enthusiastic audience rise to their feet at the conclusion of the show.

The tale of female empowerment and perseverance was personified by the incomparable Julia Dray as the iconic Carole King. Julia was spectacular as the Grammy-awarding winning composer. Her emotional performance was second-to-none as you could see the struggles she went through as Carole during her relationship with her husband and song-writing partner, Gerry Goffin. That hopelessness was exemplified in the reprise of the song ‘One fine day’ as the end of Act 1.

Julia’s voice was other worldly and gave the viewer chills with her range of emotion throughout the telling of this story. Her portrayal of a regular girl trying to be successful in the music world but then falling in love in the process and raising two kids with an absent husband was perfectly real and vulnerable and the audience resonated with that feeling, especially at the end of the show as she fully let go of her inhibitions when she sung the emotive number like ‘(You make me feel like) A Natural Woman.’

Stephen Mahy embodied the role of Carole’s husband and writing partner Gerry Goffin. At the beginning of the show, the beautiful relationship between Carole and Gerry was lovely to witness, particularly as they performed, ‘Will you love me tomorrow’ acoustically. Stephen’s passion and love for the stage shone through when he gave himself to the song ‘Up on the roof’ with his dreamy voice.

To juxtapose, Stephen presented the audience with an unforgettable depiction of what Gerry went through as he grappled with mental illness and substance abuse. It gave the story some context and honesty about that time and the pressure to be brilliant in the growing world of music in 1960s New York.

Elenoa Rokobaro graced the stage at The Star as the bubbly, confident and up-beat songwriter, Cynthia Weil. Hilarious theatre performer Tim Carroll embodied Cynthia’s excitable songwriting partner and soon husband, Barry Mann. Elenoa and Tim bounced off each other so effortlessly and really became each other’s partners and support system on stage. Elenoa was introduced with her take on the song ‘Happy days are here again’ and poured all her wit, sass and poise into it and it was a superb showcase of her powerhouse vocals.

Tim was first heard on stage as he comedically asked Cynthia for help with lyrics to the number ‘Who put the bomp.’ Elenoa and Tim’s chemistry as the unlikely couple was established quite quickly and their story had a beautiful trajectory as they climbed the song charts with their friends Carole and Gerry. A highlight was the gorgeously sung ‘Walking in the rain’ as they agreed to move in with each other after much back and forth.

Marcus Rivera played the very in-demand music publisher, Don Kirshner with a lot of enthusiasm and the tough exterior of a stressed producer. He additionally radiated joy and comedic timing to leave the audience merry, particularly when he joined in to sing ‘You’ve got a friend’ with Cynthia, Barry, and Carole.

Nicki Wendt hysterically became Carole’s sarcastic but caring mother Genie Klein. Nicki played the role with wit and hilarity as she had a fag in one hand and played the piano in the other whilst telling Carole to be sensible and become a teacher and then as she became successful at Carnegie Hall, she claimed that she knew she was going to be a star.

Caity Plummer personified Carole’s best friend at College Betty and was a member of the Ensemble. Caity was funny and encouraging as Carole’s buddy who helped her have her song heard by big music executives. Jordan Twigg had brilliant stage presence as Marilyn Ward, one of the club singers Gerry met and cheated on Carole with. Jordan’s vocals in ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ had so much intensity and openness as she sang each lyric.

Elliot Baker played a multitude of roles including Carole’s influential hippy music producer Lou Adler and one of the Righteous Brother’s with the fun-loving Gabriel Tiller who brought the house down with their expressive and captivating performance of ‘You’ve lost that loving feeling’ that made everyone go weak at the knees if you can imagine that.

Rising star, Emily Monsma gave an eye-catching stupendous performance in this production. Her vocals were potent and stellar throughout the show, particularly in the ‘1650 Broadway Medley’ with her rendition of ‘Stupid Cupid.’

Jack Connor Rowan gave his whole self to the show and particularly in the role of Nick, who meets Carole at the Bitter End bar. Jack brilliantly rocks the guitarist character Nick, who asked Carole to sing. Shaylee Gear lit up the room and was a standout triple threat in this performance.

One of the famous girl groups of the 1960s was ‘The Shirelles’ and they sung many of Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s biggest hit songs. Jade Baynes gloriously embodied Little Eva, Carole and Gerry’s babysitter, who also performed one of the most well-known dance songs in history, The Locomotion’ and she was one of the dynamic members of The Shirelles. The fabulous Jennifer Trijo earned the role of the famous singer, Janelle Woods, who Gerry revealed to Carole that he had been dating. The emotional climax of the show occurred as Jennifer sung ‘One fine day’ with the Shirelles, which was so elegantly done.

Vivacious performer Bekeyela was part of The Shirelles group as she sung beautifully Barry and Cynthia’s hit song, ‘Uptown.’ The radiant Grace Driscoll performed with grace, poise, and outstanding vocal ability, Carole and Gerry’s number, ‘Will you love me tomorrow’ with The Shirelles.

Marcus Corowa, Joe Gaudion, Charley Williams, and Api Naisarani reigned supreme as the heart throb boyband of the 60s, The Drifters. The energetic but soulful men performed the popular songs with ease and brilliantly choreographed synchronised swarve movement. They splendidly executed the performance of 1960s chart-toppers with their powerful vocals, including ‘Some kind of wonderful’, ‘Up on the roof’ and the iconic ‘On Broadway’ to name a few.

Matt Ward Entertainment’s production of the beloved Beautiful: The Carole King Musical was definitely ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ and had the audience applauding as they reminisced to when they first heard Carole’s music in the soulful era of pop and rock. Stay for the undeniable talent, delightful choreography, powerhouse vocals, and inspirational heartwarming story of female empowerment and perseverance in time of heartache. Don’t miss the beautiful joyfest at The Star Theatre until 8 April.


Until 8 April
The Star Theatre, Gold Coast

All images supplied and credit to Kylie Head Photography.