Singer songwriter Carole King has an iconic repertoire of songs many of us grew up with. Here we interview Esther Hannaford, who plays Carole superbly in the musical aptly called Beautiful.
I suspect that almost everyone has a favourite Carole King song, which brings the memories flooding back. Mine is You’ve Got A Friend, which was the ‘leaving song’ at our final year 12 assembly (circa 1986) … and it still brings a tear to my eye today (and no … that has nothing to do with the associated flashbacks of permed hair and giant shoulder pads!) Carole King’s iconic repertoire of songs have provided the soundtrack for multiple generations.
From Will You Love Me Tomorrow to You’ve Got A friend, You Make Me Feel Like (A Natural Woman) and even The Locomotion … who knew?
More than 400 of her compositions have been recorded by over a thousand artists, resulting in 100 hit singles and six Grammy® Awards. This incredible legacy is captured and celebrated in Douglas McGrath’s musical –Beautiful: The Carole King Musical which is currently playing in Sydney and moving on to Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide throughout 2018.
This is a production not to be missed, tracing King’s rise to stardom from schoolgirl to international superstar. The song list is packed with her timeless hits, providing the backdrop to her incredible and inspirational story. The cast is sensational, but the star of the show is undoubtedly, Esther Hannaford, who effortlessly and convincingly portrays Carole. I spoke to Esther about her role as the extraordinary Carole King.
I don’t think anyone would dispute that Carole King is a living legend. Were you a bit daunted,
being entrusted to portray this incredible woman and musician?
Yes. It was absolutely daunting, but also a driving force that made me want to work hard to honour Carole’s story, her voice and the memories that people have of her. It is an absolute honour to play Carole King and also the first time I’ve had to play a real, living person … who also just happens to be a legend.
Did you have a favourite Carole King song going into this … and is it still your favourite after
being immersed in the lyrics and story for so long?
My favourite was It’s Too Late going into it, which I still love, but after doing eight shows per week and being immersed in the story, I’ve really grown to love Beautiful, which is a song I didn’t know at all beforehand. It took me a while to fall in love with it. I’m normally into melancholy, but this is quite an uplifting song, which is fun to sing … especially where it sits at the end of the show. It’s kind of triumphant and awesome.
How is it that you think Carol’s songs are still as relevant and loved today as they were 50
I think because they’re so simple. She talked about it in her book; that when it gets too complicated she would step away from a song and come back to it again because she knew it wasn’t going to be the hit that it needed to be. I think she just has this ability to strip back what is the most important thing you need to hear right now. Those basic human emotions stand the test of time. The world might have changed but I don’t think people at their core have changed that much.
Carole comes across as a really solid character with a good value set … not flashy or needy of
attention but hard working and humble. Is that how you see her?
Totally … that’s how I see her. She’s highly functional and determined but with no frills. Carole is and was always just Carole … hardworking, family focused and always true to herself. Her inner confidence, strength and incredible talent shines through.
Is there any musician or performer today that you think will be remembered in the same way
as Carole King, 50 years from now?
Definitely… Someone like Adele, who has said in the past that Carole King was one of her biggest influences. She’s just stacked up amazing hits again and again that resonate with people all over the world.
For more information visit beautifulmusical.com.au