Ever wondered about the inspiration behind songs such as “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling?” Look no further than Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. The production, which tells the story of the early life and career of Carole King, has been a resounding success on the Great White Way since its debut in January 2014.
The play follows King, born Carol Klein, from the beginning of her career as a young songwriter from Brooklyn with her creative partner and later husband Gerry Goffin to her famous performance at Carnegie Hall, where she sealed her fate as a music legend. Beautiful explores the good and the bad of the working and romantic relationship King shared with Goffin, as well as the friendship the duo had with fellow songwriters Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann.
Growing up in Brooklyn, the young songwriter faces opposition from her mother while pursuing her dreams, but found support in Don Kirshner, a successful music publisher. King meets Goffin at Queens College, and the two begin a personal and professional relationship which results in marriage and the birth of their daughter, Louise. King and Goffin find success with their music – penning songs for the likes of Little Eva, The Drifters and The Shirelles, among others – and so do Weil and Mann. Goffin’s extramarital affairs and drug use threaten to tear the union apart, but the situation encourages King to set out on her own both personally and professionally.
The rest is history, as King becomes a legendary singer-songwriter in her own right and finds happiness in herself.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is currently playing at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. The production was nominated for seven Tony Awards and won two – for Best Sound Design and Best Leading Actress in a Musical for Jessie Mueller, who originated the lead role. In addition, the cast recording won a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.
Although the singer-songwriter is not a producer of the show, King owns the rights to her life story and therefore receives final approval of the casting of the part of Carole. She is additionally credited as a composer and lyricist for the musical.
Audiences of all ages will enjoy Beautiful. While the older crowd may be more familiar with her work, King’s story and music will turn even the youngest theatregoers into fans.
Cast and Crew Introduction
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical features a talented cast and crew. The current roster is as follows:
Chilina Kennedy as Carole King
Scott J. Campbell as Gerry Goffin
Jessica Keenan Wynn as Cynthia Weil
Ben Jacoby as Barry Mann
Paul Anthony Stewart as Don Kirshner
Liz Larsen as Genie Klein
Words and Music by Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann
Book by Douglas McGrath
Direction by Marc Bruni
Choreography by Josh Prince
Music Direction by Jason Howland
Scenic Design by Derek McLane
Costume Design by Alejo Vietti
Lighting Design by Peter Kaczorowski
Sound Design by Brian Ronan
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is playing at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on Broadway. The space seats 1,055 people, split between orchestra and mezzanine levels.
Beautiful officially opened January 12, 2014 after a tryout run at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre. The show is currently set to run until January 2017.
Critics and audiences alike have reacted warmly to the Broadway production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical:
“There are beaucoup happy surprises…in the first act of Beautiful, all staged by [Marc] Bruni in Broadway-worthy style and smartly executed by an attractive ensemble with great pipes and nice moves.” – Variety
“Following in the footsteps of crowd-pleasers like Jersey Boys and Motown: The Musical, this is entertaining boomer bait that elevates its by-the-numbers narrative with great songs…[Douglas] McGrath’s book flirts openly (though not displeasingly) with sitcom dialogue, and by no means skirts the clichés and shortcuts of hackneyed behind-the-music chronicles. But the story, and perhaps more importantly, the characters, are never less than engaging. It also helps that, like Jersey Boys, the songs are mostly performance numbers, enhancing the storyline without requiring the effortful plot shoehorning of many jukebox musicals.” – Hollywood Reporter
“…Beautiful is ultra-slick and impeccably executed…” – Talkin’ Broadway
“If you’d truly like to feel the earth move under your feet, then I suggest you pay a visit to the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in Manhattan, where Chilina Kennedy is currently rocking the city with her performance in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical…She captures every nuance of King to perfection [and she] accomplishes this by using every weapon in her acting arsenal: her boundless warmth, her great humour, her passionate commitment, her deeply rooted sensuality and, perhaps most of all, that smile, which is capable of lighting up a Broadway stage without artificial illumination.
…Scott Campbell… works magic with his portrait of Gerry Goffin…Campbell holds us on every minute of his journey, earning a permanent place in our hearts…Liz Larsen is comedic perfection as King’s loving but nagging mother, dispensing wisdom and folly in equal measure.” – Toronto Star
“With Marc Bruni’s crisp direction and Josh Prince’s precision choreography, the hits segue seamlessly on Derek McLane’s industrial grid set — from drab office to glittery concert stage — with the efficiency of a snappy line (libretto by Douglas McGrath) as we encounter live replicas of The Drifters, Shirelles, Righteous Brothers and Little Eva.” – Newsday