As the exuberant cast belted out and shimmied to “I Feel the Earth Move” after final bows, my friend Tracy sighed “I don’t want it to end” echoing the sentiment of all in attendance. BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL is a romp through an era of infectious pop songs, written for others to sing, that leads up to a liberating self-discovery: Carole is the only one who can truly do justice to her new batch of songs. That personal batch of songs becomes the award winning album TAPESTRY. The show ends with her triumphant performance at Carnegie Hall as a solo artist. It’s a moment in time she could’ve never imagined as a 16 year old aspiring songwriter who just wanted to get her songs heard and on the radio.
BEAUTIFUL is a fabulous period piece that presents a slice of the 50’s barreling into the 60’s with a peek into the early 70’s. The hairdo, set and wardrobe changes subtly shift to place the scenes in time (although how DID they switch some of those outfits so fast??) and the set is itself a remarkable sliding and gliding affair. Speaking of affairs, as much as the storyline is about song making, it’s also about Carole’s relationship with her husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin whose dalliances would ultimately tear apart the marriage and team. It’s a tale of pluck and perseverance, determination, self-realization and of course, talent. It’s also an open door into the Brill Building school of songwriters with Don Kirshner in a crucial role and particularly, a look at the friendly rivalry between King/Goffin and the duo of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.
The vocal performances from the entire cast are solidly superb as is the dancing. The storyline brings plenty of humorous as well as reflective and YOU GO GIRL! moments. And you truly can’t separate Sarah Bockel from her character from the first moment she sits down at the piano bench. Ultimately, the songs are the stars. Again with my friend Tracy who kept murmuring “she wrote THAT?” This show will have you singing and dancing your way out of the theatre.
BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL at the Academy of Music through January 20, 2019.
Ticket prices start at $20 and are available at www.kimmelcenter.org or 215-893-1999.
PHOTO CRED: Danny Knaub (BBO)