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From West End to Wimbledon: A Beautiful Story

By Amy Cooper

Let us rewind back to My Local Theatre: Why Choose New Wimbledon, a previous blog post of ours. It details a plethora of the reasons as to why our customers choose to come back time and time again. Inside it highlighting our mission statement to provide theatre and performance that is indicative of quality and intimacy for affordable prices... 

'New Wimbledon's programming is carefully curated with our audience in mind. We play host to a range of performance genres from concerts, comedians and musicals to ballets, operas and plays, whilst firmly remaining 'the Home of London Pantomime', an annual delight. We believe in providing West End quality performances that are good value for money, whilst remaining a local venue, for a heart-warming, personalised experience...'

'an ideal venue for the more intimate concert, just big enough to pay for a bit of quality but not cavernous so that you feel disconnected from the acts'

Therefore, visitors love not only the intimacy of our abode, but the fact that no matter where you are sitting you can still connect with the magic of the performance unravelling before you, not only for the reason that it is of a certain quality but because of our exquisitely designed auditorium providing an excellent view in all instances. 

'the productions are professional polished and great fun. Easy to get in and out, great interior and friendly helpful staff'

And next week is the perfect example of West End quality finding its way onto our stage, as we play host to Beautiful - The Carole King Musical. This comes less than a year after the production closed in the West End, following a just over 2-year engagement at the Aldwych Theatre. However Beautiful was not a new production when it hit London's West End, it premiered on Broadway in 2014 where it still plays to sell out audiences. It originally starred Broadway starlet Jessie Mueller in the title role, who went on to also originate the role of Jenna in Sara Bareilles' smash hit musical Waitress

Left: Jessie Mueller (as Carole King) Right: Jessie Mueller (as Jenna)

Beautiful is a gritty exploration of the life and times of singer-songwriter Carole King. It denotes how, prior to the fame and chart-topping hits she used to be an ordinary girl with an undiscovered, extraordinary talent. Culminating in an inspiring, true to life retelling 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, with 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, Locomotion, You've Lost That Loving Feeling, On Broadway and We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

When the production hurtled on to the 'Great White Way' it received instantaneous critical acclaim, with Ben Brantley of the New York Times calling the musical a 'friendly, formulaic bio-musical', a witty exploration of the 'real, conflicted person within the reluctant star'. Beautiful subsequently receiving seven nominations at the 2014 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Mueller then went on to win Best Leading Actress in a Musical and Brian Ronan Best Sound Design. London's star, Katie Brayben managed to match her Broadway counterpart, picking up the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 2015. 

This touring production currently stars Bronté Barbé, former finalist in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Over The Rainbow, (BBC). When asked about the show this is what she had to say...

'...the music is amazing; it's just the best. I haven't played a part like this is my career so far. [Carole] she is so determined, particularly as a woman starting out in the time she did, work in the industry she did. She knew what she wanted, so worked hard and went out and got it, which makes her very inspirational. However, she is also a very relatable character I think. She never set out to be famous but her talent and ambition meant that whilst she might be quite ordinary in someways, she has an extraordinary story. There's a big draw to it.' 

'There's so much depth to it you know, as she's a real person. We meet her in the show at age 16 and go up to 29... physically it can be a bit of a challenge as you have to grow and mature in your performance each night, but you have 2-hours to do it. It's a lot in the body, and in the voice to give her that maturity. I'm almost at the age she is at the end of the show, and as you grow older your voice changes but also the weight of what was going on in her life at the time affects you in so many different ways so I try to bear that in mind in my performance.'

'I can't wait for Wimbledon as it's our closest venue to London so I've got lots of friends coming to see the show. I was there on tour with Shrek and it was so much fun so I'm really looking forward to visiting with the cast of Beautiful!'

Beautiful - The Carole King Musical bursts onto Wimbledon's iconic stage from 23 to 26 May 2018.