MOMS DAY OUT: BEAUTIFUL – The Carole King Musical: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical is the new musical about the early life and career of the legendary and groundbreaking singer/songwriter. With a book by playwright and Academy® Award-nominated filmmaker Douglas McGrath, direction by Marc Bruni and choreography by Josh Prince, Beautiful features songs written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil.
Long before she was Carole King, chart-topping music legend, she was Carol Klein, Brooklyn girl with passion and chutzpah. She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and, by the time she reached her twenties, had the husband of her dreams and a flourishing career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll. But it wasn’t until her personal life began to crack that she finally managed to find her true voice. Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of King’s rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history.
Tony® Award-nominee Jessie Mueller stars as ‘Carole King’; Jake Epstein as ‘Gerry Goffin’, Anika Larsen as ‘Cynthia Weil’, Jarrod Spector as ‘Barry Mann’, Jeb Brown as ‘Don Kirshner’, Liz Larsen as ‘Genie Klein’, and an ensemble that includes Ashley Blanchet, E. Clayton Cornelious, Joshua Davis, Alysha Deslorieux, Kevin Duda, James Harkness, Carly Hughes, Sara King, Rebecca LaChance, Douglas Lyons, Chris Peluso, Gabrielle Reid, Arbender Robinson, Rashidra Scott, Sara Sheperd, and Melvin Tunstall.
The creative team also includes Derek McLane (Set Design), Alejo Vietti (Costume Design), Peter Kaczorowski (Lighting Design), Brian Ronan (Sound Design), Charles G. LaPointe (Wig and Hair Design), Steve Sidwell (Orchestrations and Music Arrangements), Jason Howland (Music Supervision), John Miller (Music Coordination) and Stephen Kopel (Casting).
I have been a Carole King fan for years. I remember as a teenager playing her album (yes ….album…not MP3, CD, iTune, etc.) TAPESTRY over ‘n over in my room. Seeing this show was more than a trip down memory lane. Seeing Beautiful was a beautiful theatrical experience. Mueller delivers a poignant, passionate and empowered performance, and she captures the essence of King, from her unique sound to her insecurity to her ultimate joy in performing. Mueller has a strong, yet touching presence, and we witness her blossom before our eyes. By the time she takes to the keyboard to sing Beautiful, we know that we’re witnessing greatness from both her and King. Keep an eye out come Tony time…..for a likely Mueller nomination.
Mueller is supported by a hugely talented and versatile cast. Epstein as Goffin has a commanding stage presence, and Larsen as Weil and Spector as Mann are hugely likeable and add some comic relief. Brown as Kirshner and Larsen as King’s mother deliver, and the rest of the supporting cast does a stellar job jumping from role to role seamlessly. I had no clue that King/Goffin wrote all the songs featured that were sung by various mega hit groups at that time (Weil/Mann wrote many as well), and it a treat to see them performed live.
If you’re a Carole King fan, Beautiful is a must see! You could feel the love from the audience, and a well-deserved standing ovation resulted. If I had my old stereo, I’d dig out my old albums and crank up TAPESTRY. Time to purchase the TAPESTRY CD….and await a Broadway show CD!
Beautiful is playing at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre (124 West 43rd Street, NYC) and runs 2 hours, 25 minutes. Visit http://www.beautifulonbroadway.com.