The Zodiac Musical Theatre's upcoming production of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical promises to be a captivating musical journey through the life of some of the greatest songwriters of all time. Amidst the whirlwind of hit songs and personal journey of Carole King, the show also shows her friendship with lyricist Cynthia Weil, whose partnership with Barry Mann produced an extraordinary collection of music that shaped the landscape of pop culture. Join us as we chat with Francesca Wellman who brings Cynthia Weil to life on stage in The Zodiac's production.
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 come from a digital marketing background, and have a side hustle with a food and travel blog and have been known to lend a hand with the odd theatre marketing campaign! I've been involved in amateur performing arts since I was around 10 - I got hustled along to a youth group attached to the St Helens Theatre Royal in the hope it would make me come out of my shell - my first show was the Wizard of Oz and it got me totally hooked! I've not managed to do a lot of shows in the last decade or so due to work and life getting in the way - The Zodiac's production of Wedding Singer was my first time back on stage for quite some time and I'm excited to have discovered a great group in The Zodiac!
Is it daunting playing a real person?
A little bit - I've played historical figures before but never someone from living memory! It was helpful getting an idea of her energy from interviews and podcasts but for the most part I've loved putting my own spin on Cynthia from how I felt like she should behave in the scenes.
How would you describe Cynthia’s character?
I'm absolutely loving playing the part of Cynthia - she's very chic but smart and quick-witted. I read her as the sort of woman that knows what she wants and who's not afraid to put herself out there to get it, whether that's in her career or her personal life (she certainly gets her man very quickly!). She's got a lot of sass about her but is still so likeable, I hope anyway!
Have you learnt anything about the songs in the show that surprised you?
Just how many songs these powerhouses wrote! I was more familiar with Carole King's songs but how many Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann had written was a surprise. We've got some great ones in this show including ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’, which apparently was one of the most-played songs of the 20th century. Her and Barry Mann also wrote so many more incredible hits - ‘Somewhere Out There’, ‘Here You Come Again’, ‘Make Your Own Kind Of Music' 'Saturday Night At The Movies' - so many!
What's your favourite song in the show?
My favourite of the show is one of Beth's (our Carole King) - One Fine Day - it's one hell of an act 1 finale moment! As far as songs I get to sing in, I love the 1650 Broadway Medley and You've Got A Friend is always a special moment.
Have you got a favourite scene in the show?
My favourite scene is probably not the cheeriest but we have a scene where the couples go away on holiday together to get away from work pressure, but we end up seeing all the professional and personal pressure come to a head a bit. Its a scene where we get to see how well the couples got on but also had their own tensions going on.
What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing Beautiful?
If they walk away with a massive smile that's all we can ask for! I think it's a really fun show, great energy, great music and pretty empowering as well. Cynthia expresses surprise early on that Carole King could possibly be a composer as she's a girl - these are two women that really did shape pop music in the 60s and beyond!
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.