The Carpenters were one of the most popular artists of the 70s, winning four Grammy Awards and scoring 12 top ten hits, including three number one singles.
Together, Richard and Karen Carpenter sold 100 million records and timeless hits from their back catalogue include (They Long to Be) Close to You, We’ve Only Just Begun, Superstar, Rainy Days and Mondays, Please Mr Postman and Yesterday Once More.
Now, for the first time, The Carpenters Story is coming to Potters and features the outstanding vocal talents of acclaimed singer Claire Furley, who is unsurpassed in her uncanny representation of Karen, together with pianist and artistic director Phil Aldridge, who we know from The Illegal Eagles. The concert style production features live musicians, state-of-the-art video projection, narration and stunning musical arrangements of The Carpenters hit songs that made the brother and sister duo legendary.
Ahead of the show’s debut at Potters on Sunday 29th March 2020, we caught up with Claire to find out more…
Can you tell us about the show?
It is a musical extravaganza and a celebration of The Carpenters songs, and is more like a concert. We don’t pretend to be them, but instead perform the music, take the audience back to the era and tell the story. We’ve been doing the show for around 24 years now.
Do you sound like Karen?
I grew-up listening to The Carpenters as my parents love them and I think I somehow took on her vocal style. I started performing when I was 17 and people have always told me I sound like her, which is an incredible compliment.
How many songs do you manage to fit in the show?
I think it is around 25. We also narrate it and show video footage, and we cover Karen’s death in the first half when we broadcast news footage about her death, which is always a really hard and emotional part of the show, but we want the last part to celebrate the joy of their music. They were only making music for 14 years before Karen’s untimely death and you just think about what they could have gone on to achieve.
What is your favourite song of The Carpenters?
That is a hard question as my favourite changes all the time, but I do love Only Yesterday and I have a soft spot for Desperado.
Karen also played the drums. Do you?
Yes, I play the drums in the show, and there is a drumming section, and I play the piano too. We also have a live band with nine people, and we all get on so well. It is lovely seeing the audience singing and mouthing along the words to the songs.
What has been a real highlight from your time in The Carpenters Story?
It is always lovely to perform in our hometown around Southend-on-Sea, but also years ago performing on the retro stage at the V Festival and performing to thousands of people.
What is your background?
I have always loved music and always wanted to perform, and dreamed of being a professional violinist. I was head of music at schools before auditioning for Phil Aldridge to be part of The Carpenters Story. I love to teach music and still do it in between performances, and I have a choir I run. My five-year-old daughter, Nancy, loves The Carpenters too and loves playing the drums, probably because she is at the age of liking anything that makes the most noise!