For years Broadway has turned to the jukebox musical to fill theaters. Most full of stories that include down on their luck artists and groups who manage to defy all odds and become one of the biggest sensations in the industry. Currently on Broadway the shows JERSEY BOYS and MOTOWN fall in to the above category. Lumping Beautiful into that same category would be a disservice.
The story of Carole King’s early life and rise in the music industry isn’t full of pitfalls and tragedies. However, it makes a great premise for a show. She never entered the music industry with dreams of becoming a famous singer. She just wanted to write great songs for others to sing. Those songs became some the biggest hits in the 1960’s. It wasn’t until after her divorce from writing partner Gerry Goffin did she start singing and recording her own songs. Her album “Tapestry” which explored her feelings before, during and after her divorce was one of the biggest sellers of the 1970’s.
Jessie Mueller is a star as Carole King. Not only does she bare a striking resemblance to her, but her voice is spot on with every word spoken or sung. There really isn’t any other actor who could be cast in this role. She brings an energetic, spunk to the stage that captivates you from the moment the show starts. She is perfectly paired with Jake Epstein as Gerry Goffin. The two have an undeniable chemistry. Their working partnership and romance provides the perfect storyline for the show. Jarrod Spector as Barry Mann and Anika Larsen as Cynthia Weil the rival writing team and eventual best friends of Carole and Gerry provide a great competitive storyline.
The design team used the automatic set technology the Stephen Sondheim Theatre has perfectly. Sets move and shift between scenes with ease as we are transported from Carole’s childhood home in Brooklyn, to the writing studio at 1650 Broadway in Manhattan to her suburban home in New Jersey and eventually to Carnegie Hall.
This is a show for anyone who loves a great storyline and a beautiful songs and vocal talent. You don’t have to be a big fan of Carole King to appreciate her music or her story. You just need to be a fan of great songs.
BEAUTIFUL:THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL is playing at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre at 124 West 43rd Street (Between Broadway and 6th Avenue). For more information on the show, visit the show’s website.