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Review | Beautiful | Liverpool Empire | 16/11/2022

Beautiful follows the real-life story of singer-songwriter Carol Kings rise to prominence. This is the third UK tour of the show after successful runs in both the West End and on Broadway. Despite this, I still wasn’t sure what to expect as I didn’t think I was overly familiar with King’s work.

Although far from every song, I was surprised just how much of Kings iconic catalogue I actually knew. Including reprises, there are 28 musical numbers in the 2.5-hour show. Each song is performed well but it is usually performed as a ‘performance’. This doesn’t mean they aren’t performed impeccably but I would have liked a bit more variation to the delivery. The songs still worked well in parallel to the story. The final run of four songs were absolutely immaculate, all of which are likely contenders to finding their way onto my ‘Stagey Songs’ playlist.

The real standout of Beautiful is the incomparable Molly-Grace Cutler as Carol King. Her voice sent literal shivers down my spine, from the opening bars of ‘So Far Away’ at the start of Act 1. No words can articulate just how incredible this woman’s voice is. Cutler is one of the finest vocalists I have ever had the privilege to hear live on stage, and she effortlessly captures the essence of King herself. I would have happily paid double just to watch her shine! This isn’t to say the rest of the cast aren’t superb, as they truly are. Similar to the last jukebox musical I saw, ‘Girl From The North Country’, several of the cast also played instruments and it was lovely to see the orchestra on stage rather than hidden away in the pit.

The book however is where I have a few issues. I walked in knowing very little about King, but sadly didn’t feel like I knew an awful lot more by the end of the show. I am sure there is more of a story that could have been told, but it wasn’t told here. Along with the remarkable Molly-Grace Cutler, the music is the star of the show here. Fans of King will certainly not be disappointed, and the sea of audience members up and dancing at the end confirmed this. Whilst not without its faults, I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon at the Liverpool Empire and would recommend it for a nice easy watch.

Beautiful plays at the Liverpool Empire until 19 November 2023 before finishing its UK tour in Oxford the following week. See below for booking details.


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