The Zodiac Musical Theatre's upcoming production of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical promises to be a captivating musical journey through the life of one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Carole King was just a school girl when she sold her first song, and by her twenties had the husband of her dreams and a stellar career writing for some of the biggest names in rock 'n'roll. Despite this though, it wasn't until her personal life fell apart that she found her true voice. Join us as we chat with Beth Stratford who is bringing Carole King to life on stage in The Zodiac's production.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your background – how long have you been performing for? What does “real life” look like for you?
I’m relatively new to all of this. My first show was in 2018 when I played Roz in 9 to 5. I’ve been dancing, and singing in choirs since I was very young, but no real ‘show’ experience. I’m a Chartered Accountant in ‘real life’ and spend most of my day sat behind a desk so being able to be a part of these amazing shows really does provide much needed relief. There’s nothing better than spending a few hours in the evening with amazing friends getting to do what we love.
2. Is it daunting playing a real person?
Absolutely! You want to honour their experiences and provide a believable performance to the audience. You have to spend a lot of time researching the person and their life experiences so you can tell their story.
3. What’s the most exciting part of playing Carole King?
I don’t want to give away any spoilers here for those that haven’t seen the show before, but this time in Carole’s life was so pivotal in her career and personal life. The show starts when she’s 16 years old and for someone so young, she has so much to deal with. It’s really exciting being able to develop your character as the show goes on, she really finds her confidence and some absolute sass!
4. Carole King is such an iconic songwriter. What do you think makes her music so special?
So much of her music, especially around the Tapestry era, was written from the heart. Her story. Her life. And you can feel that in the music. All of the love, the heartbreak, the ability to move on. It’s the music I put on when I just need a minute. It has the ability to calm and to inspire.
5. Do you have a favorite Carole King song?
When I first heard Carole’s version of ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ many years ago, I absolutely knew I would love to perform as Carole King in ‘Beautiful’. It’s such a special song with so much heartbreak, but put so beautifully. It’s one of my absolute favourites and I can’t wait to perform it on stage!
Many people will probably know this song from Dirty Dancing! That’s one of the best parts of this show, even if you don’t know Carole King, you’ll almost certainly know some of her songs!
6. What do you think Carole King's music has meant to the world?
So many of her songs were performed by big artists - Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, The Drifters, The Beatles, Kylie… I could go on. When researching for this show I found so many songs that I had no idea were written by her! Her music is everywhere!
7. What do you think are your character’s most defining qualities?
Carole is definitely an optimist! She believed the best of everyone and was very naive to the world around her. All she really wanted was a family, and I think she managed to build one with the friends she found along the way.
8. What do you think audiences can take away from seeing Beautiful: The Carole King Musical?
This show is the life story of a very inspirational woman who found her worth and became a star. You’ll leave feeling uplifted and the songs may even inspire a few of your own memories! There’s lots of sass and so much incredible talent! What’s not to love?!
9. What is your favorite scene in the show?
Again, this is really hard without giving away spoilers, but my favourite scene is just before the interval. It’s such an important moment for Carole in her life and being able to portray all those emotions whilst singing an incredible song is a dream come true!
Beautiful The Carole King Musical opens 28th February 2024 at The Grange Theatre, Hartford Cheshire. Book your tickets at www.thegrangetheatre.com/zodiac-beautiful or call the box office on 01606 539040.