The Broadway hit, “Beautiful - The Carole King Musical” made its Philadelphia premiere last night at the Academy of Music and runs through April 3, 2016.
If you are one of the 25 million people who bought Tapestry, Carole King’s 1971 album, that’s enough reason to see the show. But there are so many more!
It’s an uplifting, engaging, funny, and very personal true story told by superb actors intermixed with one of the best musical soundtracks ever.
The story begins in 1958 when Brooklyn resident Carole King was 16 years old pitching songs she wrote to a publisher in New York – Don Kirshner. We know his name from being the TV show host of “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” that aired weekly on ABC from 1972 – 1981.
After seeing this new engaging singer, he took her on as a songwriter but he told her she needed work on her lyrics. Along came Gerry Goffin, an aspiring playwright whom she met in school, and from the get-go, the two hit it off.
Unlike most musicals where a character will break into song instead of talking their lines, this one doesn’t need to do that. The lines are spoken, and the song comes along naturally whether it’s Carole sitting down at the piano to play a new song for Don Kirshner, or a group like the Drifters who sing and dance one of her songs.
With the performance of each song comes the wow factor – she wrote that, too?
Here are the songs Carole King wrote or co-wrote that are featured in the play followed by who recorded it and performed it in the play (if other than Carole King herself).
So Far Away
Oh Carol (Neil Sedaka)
It May as Well Rain Until September
Some Kind of Wonderful (The Drifters)
Take Good Care of My Baby
Will You Love me Tomorrow (The Shirelles)
Up on the Roof (The Drifters)
The Locomotion (Little Eva)
One Fine Day (Janelle)
Chains (recorded by the Beatles but not featured in the play)
Pleasant Valley Sunday (made famous by the Monkees but weren’t in the play)
It’s Too Late
You’ve Got a Friend
(You Make me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
Part of the story is the friendship King and Goffin made with another songwriter duo, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. Those two wrote famous songs that are performed including “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’,” (made famous by the Righteous Brothers). The play features more songs by this duo that helps spice up the soundtrack that much more, like “We Gotta Get Out of This Place," a hit for the Animals.
Abby Mueller stars as Carole King and has a remarkable voice, quite similar to Carole King’s. All of the actors were phenomenal, the musicians fantastic, costumes and dancing, sets – the entire production is stellar. I highly recommend.
Carole King Abby Mueller
Genie Klein (Carole’s mother) Suzanne Grodner
Betty Sarah Bockel
Neil Sedaka John Michael Dias
Lucille Salisha Thomas
Don Kirshner Curt Bouril
Gerry Goffin Liam Tobin
The Drifters Josh A Dawson, Paris Nix, Jay McKenzie, Noah J Ricketts
Cynthia Weil Becky Bulsvig
Barry Mann Ben Fankhauser
The Shirelles Ashley Blanchet, Britney Coleman, Rebecca E Covington, Salisha Thomas
Janelle Woods Rebecca E Covington
Little Eva Ashley Blancet
The Righteous Brothers Andrew Brewer, John Michael Dias
“One Fine Day” Backup Singers Ashley Blanchet, Britney Coleman, Salisha Thomas
Nick Andrew Brewer(3/22-3/27); Matt Faucher (3/29-4/3)
Marilyn Wald Delaney Westfall
“Uptown” Singer Britney Coleman
Lou Adler John Michael Dias