REVIEW: Beautiful, The Carole King Musical, Theatre Royal

Well, that was a surprise.

I knew a couple of Carole King songs, the well-known ones she released – You’ve Got a Friend and Too Late. What I didn’t know was how many songs she penned for others before she became famous in her own right as a singer. Sixties hits such as Will You Love Me Tomorrow by the Shirelles, The Locomotion by Little Eva, Some Kind of Wonderful by the Drifters and One Fine Day were all down to the talented singer/songwriter who sold her fist tune, It Might as Well Rain until September, aged 16.

I had no preconceptions about the show and the programme doesn’t give too much away other than the muscial playlist. I also didn’t know that much about Carole King. Even though I was born in the 1960s the music of the decade passed me by as a child.

Now I do. The musical opens with her performing at Carnegie Hall, then Carole takes up the story, and the audience is taken back to her early musical years as a teenger, meeting husband and writing partner Gerry Goffin at college and their journey to success. Bronte Barbe and Kane Oliver Parry excelled in the lead roles, their musical prowess lighting up the stage and their love during the early days as a husband-and-wife team shining through.

And I didn’t expect the humour. It was really funny. The script raised many a laugh from the audience, there was also plenty of light-hearted action from The Drifters as they performed their hits.

There were also some goosebump moments – You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling by The Righteous Brothers (written by King contemporaries Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, played by Amy Ellen Richardon and Matthew Gonsalves) was a real rousing number and Carole’s first foray into performing with Too Late was poignant given the ending of her marriage. Barbe also belted out A Natural Woman, a showstopper indeed.

A little mention, too, for Carol Royal as King’s mother Genie Klein, a great role, superbly played. In fact, the whole cast were superb, thoroughly deserving their first night standing ovation.

If you have tickets, consider yourself lucky. You won’t be disappointed. If you haven’t got one to this sell-out show, try getting a return, it’ll be worth your while.


Search is on for young dancer to star in family show

The search is on for a local performer to join the cast of a laugh-a-minute family show featuring characters created by David Walliams.

The producers of Gangsta Granny, which comes to Norwich Theatre Royal on July 13-15, are looking for someone to play the role of Diane in the show opposite the professional cast.

The successful performer will have a short solo dance in the middle of the show as well as being part of the finale routine. They must be 16 years old in August this year but be able to play a character who is 11-12 years old.

The successful dancer will get a video link to learn the routine. They will not need to rehearse with the cast but will need to commit to each performance of the show in Norwich.

To apply for the role, just email and the production team will get back with more information.

Alison Fitzjohn, of Birmingham Stage Company which is producing the show, said: “It is a fun role to play. It will also be great for an up-and-coming dancer to have a show like this on their CV. Gangsta Granny is creating a buzz around the country and audiences are loving the chance to see this favourite book brought to life.”

The show itself tells the story of Ben who usually spends Friday evening with Granny eating cabbage soup, cabbage pie and cabbage cake. But his weekly visit gets much exciting when Granny reveals a secret which sees the pair of them embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

To book, log onto or call the box office on 01603 630000


Dance school hip hops into theatre festival date

A North Norfolk hip hop crew has been selected to be part of a major international festival coming to Norwich.

Parallel Dance Studios have been chosen to perform at the Breakin’ Convention hip hop event being held at Norwich Theatre Royal on May 13, alongside Legacy and Fly No Filter.

They were among seven different crews who applied to star in the show, which is one of the most highly anticipated events in the British dance calendar. The groups took part in an audition in front of the Breakin’ Convention team and had to perform a piece they had created themselves.

Now the successful groups are looking forward to taking to the stage alongside some of the biggest names in hip hop including the South Korean super crew of poppers and b-boys Just Dance, Canadian urban contemporary duo Tentacle Tribe and South Africa’s renowned Soweto Skeleton Movers.

Parallel Dance Studios was set up by North Norfolk sisters Lucy and Emma Cook and is based in Holt and Reepham. They set it up to bring the fun and benefit of dance for all, and teach a wide range of different styles and techniques at classes around the county. They compete in a number of national and regional competitions in all styles and have also appeared on Sky 1’s Got To Dance. They aim to be creative and choreograph in an interesting and entertaining way while working in a strong family atmosphere.

Emma Kuiiri (Cook) said: “There were seven acts that auditioned for only three spots on stage and our P Diddys group were one of the three successful groups. The youngsters, aged from eight to 11, worked very hard to achieve this and now have lots more work ahead to prepare for the grand performance. The children are so excited and really can’t wait to perform. Their piece is themed around video games featuring Pokemon, Street Fighter and Mario. This is a massive achievement for a small dance school.”

As well as the performance itself, the theatre will be transformed into a hip-hop zone during May 13 with a host of activities planned including graffiti walls, DJ workshops and dance battles, with full details of these additional events being announced in the weeks ahead.

Victoria Jenkins, Norwich Theatre Royal’s education manager (projects), said: “We are so excited to have some of the region’s hottest hip hop talent sharing the stage with some top international acts. The hard work starts now to prepare for this exciting day of performance and creativity which everyone can enjoy.”

Parallel also had success in the UK Street Dance Championshps in London, competing against people from the UK and Europe. The team came home with a second place in the under nine duos with Tianna Kuiiri and Skyela Barden.

Breakin’ Convention, Saturday 13 May at 7.30pm. Tickets £7-£24. Discounts for Friends. Band A-D tickets half price if paid for by the end of February. To book, call the box office on 01603 630000 or log onto









Young singer takes centre stage in opera

A 12-year-old Cromer girl will be singing on stage next month at Norwich Theatre Royal with English Touring Opera in the opera Iphigénie en Tauride.

Charlotte Pollard, who lives in Norwich Road and attends Norwich School, is a chorister in the Girls Cathedral Choir and also sings in the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. Her choirmaster at Norwich School put her name forward for the role of the goddess Diana in Iphigénie en Tauride.

The youngster has previously been Brigitta in the Sound of Music for the Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society and recently sang at the Royal Festival Hall with Norwich School. She sings at Evensong in the cathedral every Tuesday with the girls’ choir.

Rehearsals with English Touring Opera start this Sunday (Feb 21) at Bermondsey with the other young Dianas from other venues around the country.

She will be required to perform five minutes of recitative on stage in full costume as part of the production. Her solo comes at the end of the show.

Explaining how he came up with the idea of casting children to play the part of the Goddess Diana, director James Conway said: “I chose to cast her as a child because her character has the innocent wilfulness of a young person who acts on instincts, and people obey her for it. There was also the tricky decision of how to differentiate between gods and humans on stage, and casting a child highlights this in an effective way.”

Charlotte said: “I feel really honoured to have been given the opportunity to sing with English Touring Opera. I think I will be a little nervous on stage, but I’m sure I will be OK although I will be trying to remember everything I’ve been taught and remembering the words as I will be singing in French. I would definitely like to train as a classical or opera singer.”

Charlotte started having singing lessons at the age of seven and has now reached Grade 7. She is in the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, in the junior girls section which is drawn from the whole of the UK.

She got a singing scholarship to Norwich School and is a girls chorister. They rehearse every Saturday and sing every Tuesday. She will also be singing in the St John’s Passion in the cathedral on March 20.

Norwich Theatre Royal will be staging two of the operas – Don Giovanni on March 21 and 22 and Iphigénie en Tauride on March 23

To book tickets go to

Charlotte Pollard at Norwich Theatre Royal