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From the Great White Way to across the pond on the West End, the story of Carole King has continued to inspire audiences to find their true voice with timeless music sung by talented leading ladies.

Long before she was Carole King, the chart-topping music legend, she was an ordinary girl with extraordinary talent. She sold her first hit, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, at just 17. By the time she was 20 she was writing number ones for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll, including The Drifters, The Shirelles, Aretha Franklin and The Monkees. But it wasn’t until her personal life began to crack that she finally managed to find her own voice and step into the spotlight, becoming the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century with music that would become the soundtrack of a generation.

Beautiful opened on Broadway in January 2014 at the Stephen Sondheim Theater, where it won two Tony Awards and the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. The Broadway production has broken every box office record at the theatre, recently becoming the highest grossing show in the venue’s history. The London production opened in February 2015, winning two Olivier Awards and the US touring production is currently wowing audiences throughout the country.

On Broadway, three talented ladies have portrayed the ‘natural woman’: Jessie Mueller, Abby Mueller, and Chilina Kennedy. On the West End, Katie Brayben and Cassidy Janson played the title role. Following the close of the West End production, Bronte Barbe will lead Beautiful across the UK and Ireland. Starting in September, Esther Hannaford will star in the Australian production.

BroadwayWorld take a look back on the Beautiful leading ladies and where they are now!