Carole King and James Taylor Favourites
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia has kicked off the 2019 season with another of their very popular musical revues. This time around they have compiled a show of the great works of Carole King and James Taylor, and as usual, they have offered a little history on this celebrated pair of singer-songwriters. This marks the eighth season with David Hogan and David Rogers as co-artistic directors and they continue to bring in great singers to the delight of their audience.
You’ve Got A Friend is an ensemble show, with four excellent singers sharing the presentation of the King and Taylor hits. Each performer has solo selections with others singing backup, or all four sing together in harmony.
The show opens with a medley of favourites, and then the first act covers their early years when both King and Taylor were songwriters for other people. There is even a diversion from King and Taylor with a selection of songs written by other people in the famous Brill Building of the 1950s and early 60s, such as “One Fine Day” and “Locomotion”.
The cast of You’ve Got A Friend gives a heartfelt rendition of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”. The song was written by King and her first husband, Gerry Goffin, with the iconic opening line “Tonight you’re mine, completely” but it was first made famous by the Shirelles. Later King recorded it with Joni Mitchell and James Taylor singing with her.
The show picks up even more energy in the second act, covering Carole King’s groundbreaking best-selling album, Tapestry. A newcomer at VPP, Nayeli Abrego, gives a brilliant performance of “So Far Away” while accompanying herself on the grand piano.
Brian Barber plays piano and sings the title song “Tapestry” in his clear, rich voice. Sarah Smith gives powerful performances of “It’s Too Late” and “Smackwater Jacks”. Smith’s slightly raspy voice is perfect for the lively numbers.
Alex Baerg gives a beautiful rendition of the crowd favourite: Taylor’s “Going to Carolina in my Mind”. Smith later offers a powerful version of “Natural Woman” penned by King and made famous by Aretha Franklin.
You may remember Smith and Barber from 2017’s Folks like Us at VPP where they showed their vocal talent with the 60s folk song favourites.
The cast are not only talented singers, but take turns playing guitar and piano, backing up their strong vocals. They also give tidbits of history between numbers adding to the interest.
As an aside, it was a nice touch to have Stage Manager Wendy Ewert and Lighting Staffer Chelsea Vanoverbeke come out after intermission and talk about what they do.
With Beautiful – The Carole King Musical currently running both on Broadway and in Toronto, King’s music is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Be sure to order your tickets for You’ve Got A Friend now, as it is likely to sell out.
You’ve Got a Friend continues at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until May 18. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 or visit www.thevpp.ca for tickets.
Photo: Brian Barber, Sarah Smith, Nayeli Abrego and Alex Baerg. Photo by Diane O’Dell.
You’ve Got A Friend
Written and compiled by Alex Baerg
Directed by David Hogan
Musical Director Mark Payne
Assistant musical director Alex Baerg
Performed by Nayeli Abrego, Alex Baerg, Brian Barber, Sarah Smith.
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
April 30 to May 18, 2019
Reviewed by Mary Alderson