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Review Roundup: BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL in Manila!

Review Roundup: BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL in Manila!Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group's production of BEAUTIFUL: THE Carole King MUSICAL runs at Meralco Theatre now through July 7. The show is directed by Bobby Garcia.

Playing the titular role is Kayla Rivera, who made her professional musical theater debut playing Nina Rosario in Atlantis' acclaimed staging of "In The Heights" in 2011. She has also played Princess Jasmine in Disney's "Aladdin," Carrie White in "Carrie," Wednesday Addams in "The Addams' Family," Sherrie in "Rock of Ages," and Violet Hilton in "Side Show."

Nick Varricchio plays King's first husband and writing partner, Gerry Goffin. Nick was last seen onstage in Manila as Double J in Atlantis' touring production of "Saturday Night Fever." His musical credits include "A Chorus Line," "Happy Days," "Light in the Piazza," and "Spring Awakening."

Joining them are some of the country's most acclaimed theater stars: Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante plays Cynthia Weil, Carole's friend and rival. George Schulze plays Barry Mann. Gab Pangilinan plays the lead singer of The Shirelles and Marilyn Wald. Jill Peña plays one of the Shirelles and Janelle Woods. Teetin Villanueva plays Little Eva and one of the Shirelles. Maronne Cruz plays Betty, Carole's childhood best friend.

The actors playing The Drifters are Tim Pavino, Arman Ferrer, Jep Go, and Markus Mann. Nelsito Gomez plays a number of roles including Neil Sedaka. Rhenwyn Gabalonzo plays one of the Righteous Brothers. Joining them are Gabby Padilla, Dean Rosen, and Alex Reyes.

Theater veterans Jamie Wilson and Carla Guevara-Laforteza are also part of the cast as Don Kirshner and Genie Klein.

The show's creative team includes Faust Peneyra, set designer; Aaron Porter, lighting designer; Raven Ong, costume designer; Leslie Espinosa, hair and makeup designer; Cecile Martinez, choreographer; Josh Millican, sound designer, and Farley Asuncion, musical director.

With a book by Douglas McGrath, BEAUTIFUL: THE Carole King MUSICAL has been thrilling theatergoers with the inspiring true story of one woman's remarkable journey from teenage songwriter to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. From the string of pop classics she wrote for the biggest acts in music, to her own life-changing, chart-busting success with "Tapestry," BEAUTIFUL: THE Carole King MUSICAL takes you back to where it all began--and takes you on the ride of a lifetime.

Featuring unforgettable classics like "You've Got a Friend," "One Fine Day," "So Far Away," "Take Good Care of My Baby," "Up on the Roof," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," and "Natural Woman," this Tony, Olivier, and Grammy Award-winning musical phenomenon is filled with the songs you remember--and a story you'll never forget. The musical continues to run on Broadway and on US National Tour.

Buy tickets (P1,500-P5,000), visit TicketWorld.com.ph.

Let's see what the critics have to say!

Nikki Francisco, Theatre Fans Manila: It's the music that makes this musical, and Garcia makes sure each song gets to shine: from the rollicking "1650 Broadway Medley" where Aaron Porter's lighting starts to come alive (only to impress and astound as the rest of the show goes along) to song and dance numbers in the in between featuring The Shirelles and the Drifters. Cecile Martinez's choreography is so dynamic, it might as well also be a dance musical. Even the costumes (Raven Ong) shows the era at its best and its most-alluring, and featured an impressive on-stage quick-change by one of the characters played by Teetin Villanueva.

Wanggo Gallaga, Click the City: As a show, it's a wonderful showcase of great and timeless songs performed wonderfully by an excellent cast lead by Kayla Rivera. It's a walkthrough musical of genres and styles; a sort of musical history lesson of the pop hits of the 60s leading up to Carole King's transition from hit songwriter to becoming a recording artist in her own right. The script is funny and the cast has great comedic timing, landing all the punchlines, while still pushing whatever dramatic energy the play can form with the very little that there is in the material.

Fred Hawson, ABS-CBN: Kayla Rivera played King as a mousy, old-fashioned young woman who wore simple, even dowdy, clothes and hairstyles for most of the show. In Act 1, she often got overshadowed by the noisier, more colorful characters around her. It was only when she sings with that beautifully fluid voice of hers that she captures our full attention. This was especially true when she bloomed with confidence with her powerful "Tapestry" solos in Act 2, particularly "It's Too Late" and "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman." However, she was not yet convincing when she shadow-plays the piano, which was an integral instrument of King's songwriting and performing career.

Jude Buot, BroadwayWorld: [The show has] creative and design elements and some stand out performances from the ensemble members in featured roles. Leading the pack is the oh-so-beautifully-sounding band (led by conductor and musical director Farley Asuncion), which makes us swoon to every familiar standard ballad and gets us groove when the tempo gets faster. Faust Peneyra's elegant set design, made of symmetric and vibrant wallpaper patterns, also makes such a lasting impression. Among the short but notable performances are those delivered by Teetin Villanueva (as Little Eva) in a spectacular, eye-popping "The Locomotion" dance number, Rhenwyn Gabalonzo as one of the "Righteous Brothers," and Tim Pavino and Jep Go as two of the all-male singing group, "The Drifters."

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