By Justin Rimpi
November 2, 2018
“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” is based on the life of renowned singer-songwriter Carole King. King either wrote or co-wrote 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the years spanning from 1955-1999.
King was played by Abby Mueller, the sister of Jessie Mueller. Jessie Mueller originally played the role of King when “Beautiful” opened on Broadway, Jan. 12, 2014. Abby Mueller gives a performance that will not soon be forgotten, as she leaves it all out on the stage. Mueller was able to portray the complicated life of King beautifully throughout the musical.
The musical begins with how King got her start in the music business. It begins with King writing her first number one hit “Wil You Love Me Tomorrow?” at the age of 17.
The music from this production are songs that either King and Gerry Goffin ( Evan Todd) wrote, or songs in which Cynthia Weil (Kate Reinders) and Barry Mann (Ben Jacoby) wrote. Goffin was King’s first husband, and Weil and Mann married one another as well.
What makes this musical so outstanding was not just its story, but the high quality performances of the 25 songs all throughout “Beautiful”. The way in which such classic songs were performed by the cast only added to the play’s overall quality and the memorable nature of the musical.
The songbook of King is so dense that it would not have been possible for all of her hit songs to be included. The story of “Beautiful” followed an impactful story arc as it took the audience through the life and hits of one of the most successful and impactful songwriters of all-time.
The ending was especially poignant. It was said on multiple occasions throughout by King that she was just not comfortable singing in front of people. But as the play progresses, that wall begins to fall as King gets more and more comfortable performing the songs in which she wrote.
The musical portrays King moving to California, which is where she recorded “Tapestry”, ome pf her most acclaimed albums. Mueller sang (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Women,” with such raw emotion that it was impossible to not tap your feet along to the music or sing the words of such an iconic track. The lyrics to this song were written by Goffin, whom was no longer with King by this time in King’s life. Goffin and King ultimately ended up getting divorced due to marital infidelities by Goffin.
The final scene of the musical is King performing at Carnegie Hall, which is certainly one of the most famous venues in the United States. “The Carnegie Hall Concert” took place June 18, 1971 and was King’s first concert performance in front of an audience. In the musical, Mueller performed a stunning version “Beautiful.”
The company of “Beautiful” was outstanding, but Mueller was certainly the star of the show, in both name and performance. She embodied King, and gave the performance of a lifetime.
King wrote music that an entire generation of people grew up listening to. All 25 of the songs in Beautiful, and the dialogue of the musical in general, summed up what the times were like when all of these hit songs were written.
“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” was well-done all around and will ensure that the life and discography of an American icon will live on for generations to come.
“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” is currently in an open run at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.
Photo by The National Theater.