Attention BA50s! If you like Carole King you’ll love this Broadway show. Because most of we midlifers know just where we were when we first heard “Tapestry” and where we first saw her “live” ( for me – it was The Orpheum in Boston, 1974) – it’s easy to feel transported by this “Beautiful” coming of age story. From the first song, “So Far Away,” we are soothed and lulled as her music brings us back to our own coming of age.
The show intertwines King’s personal creative process with American Bandstand performances. We are moved by the emotionally charged writing and development of each song – Carole taking us step by step through her process which then theatrically explodes, into Doo-Wop and R&B numbers. Who doesn’t love hearing The Drifters, The Shirelles, Neil Sedaka and The Righteous Brothers?
The lead, Jessie Mueller, brings our young Carole to life. She looks like Carole and she almost sings like Carole (close enough for my liking). We watch our high school heroine, a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn, grow up as she is catapulted into the music, motherhood, and the magic of the early 60’s R&B and Doo-Wop scene.
When we meet Carole she is landing her first job with Don Kirshner, “the man with the golden ear” who becomes her publisher, producer and talent manager for the show’s duration.
Her high school crush blossoms into young love with Gerry Goffin (Jake Epstein) as they become romantically charged writing and marriage partners. The music pours out of them on the upswing as their romance escalates (“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”) as do the painful ballads and reflective verses reverberate as their marriage dissolves – i.e. “It’s Too Late.” And finally when Carole, divorced and launching out on her own without Goffin, truly finds her own voice with “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman.”
Kirshner brilliantly sets up a competitive writing playoff between Cynthia Weil (Anika Larsen) and Barry Mann (Jarrod Spector) and Carole and Goffin. As they each produce one hit after the next – we are lured into our pasts listening to performances by The Shirelles and The Drifters belting out “On Broadway,” “Up On The Roof” and more. (Frankly, It was hard to stay seated.)
No reason not to get your tickets ASAP for this great show except for a few possible risks:
- Broadway prices, as always
- Finding a ticket, as this show Will Be a HIT
- Danger of someone singing next to you in the audience.
If you’re thinking of bringing your 20-somethings to this show — well, there’s no guarantee they will love it like we do. If they know the music ahead of time – then perhaps you should take them – however it’s good to remember, it’s our music, our nostalgia, our history and our Carole.
Have fun and let us know what you think of the show (in the comment section below). It’s fun and it’s “Beautiful!”