I’ve decided that if I post anything theatre related it will be on #TheatreThursday. Theatre is a huge part of my life (which I will explain in an upcoming post). Last semester I had the opportunity to write a review of the Broadway musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. I then submitted it to a website called Center on the Aisle, where I got a job reviewing NYC based shows. So that’s just one of the exciting opportunities I have in the city.
In honor of the shows 1 year anniversary (which was a few days ago) I thought I’d share my review. This musical surprised me by how much I ended up loving it. It is definitely top three. A real blog post is coming soon!
Beautiful is “Some Kind of Wonderful”
Liz Lombardi ‘16
Beautiful is not just a musical currently running on Broadway. It is also a word that describes said musical perfectly. I have now been able to see Beautiful the Carole King Musical twice. Both times I woke up early and got to the recently renamed Stephen Sondheim Theatre. Both times I was met with a piece of paper stating that standing room only tickets were available for that day’s performance. Both times I received a ticket for $37 dollars to a show that would change my life.
I had no idea who Carole King was going into this show. Both friends I saw it with were fans of her, though, and Jessie Mueller is the title character (more on her later) so I figured why not? The first song (“So Far Away”) I recognized immediately, as I did with many more in the coming two and a half hours. So did the rest of the audience. I’ll never forget the collective sigh of acknowledgement I heard both times when the opening chords to “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” started playing. Other popular songs include “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Natural Woman,” “On Broadway,” and “The Locomotion.” Yes, you read that right.
It also should be said that I am not a huge fan of jukebox musicals. Sure, they can be entertaining but they’re usually not very moving, and can feel like songs were forced into place because they felt that they needed to include them just for the sake of it. Beautiful, however, defies anything I’ve ever felt about these kinds of shows. Book writer Douglas McGrath did an excellent job connecting King’s life story to the songs she and her friends wrote. Each song blended seamlessly into every scene and furthered the emotion or energy given off by the actors.
The target demographic for this show is people who were growing up during the time period that the show is set in: the 60s and 70s. But don’t let that deter you from seeing this. This is a show that has, refreshingly, not turned to the use of celebrities to grab the attention of a wider demographic. Instead, Roundabout Theatre Company has chosen a cast of extremely talented Broadway performers. No one disappointed, and I could talk for days about how well every cast member, from lead to ensemble, accurately portrayed the lives of people who actually existed.
One who stood out was Jessie Mueller. I saw her for the first time two years ago in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. I remember thinking how great she was then, so that, plus seeing her performance on the Tony Awards enticed me to go see this show. And I was blown away. My goodness, Jessie Mueller is a force to be reckoned with. The show takes place over the course of a couple decades and Mueller does a superb job at portraying King’s progression from the young, love struck, collaborative songwriter to the older, seasoned, independent solo artist. I could feel every emotion emanating through her voice. Speaking of her voice, Mueller sounds just like King. Seriously. I listened to a song from King’s record-setting album Tapestry and then listened to the recording of Mueller singing the same song. They are nearly identical. It’s no wonder that Mueller took home this year’s Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. She is more than deserving of it.
Beautiful can boast that it won two Tony’s and it was the first show of the 2013-2014 season to recoup its $13 million investment, doing so in just nine months. For reference, most shows never recoup. I would wholeheartedly recommend this show to anyone. I think there’s a little something for everyone in this show. Whether it’s nostalgia of a time gone by or being able to connect to Carole’s passion or struggles though love, this show is a must see. And people must agree with me because it plays to completely or nearly sold-out audiences every night.
As I mentioned before, this show changed my life. It opened me up to the world of Carole King. I left the show feeling like I had grown up with Carole King and it inspired me to learn even more about her. There is a ling from one of King’s songs that has stuck with me to this day and I’d like to share it with you because I think it’s so important for everyone to hear. So, on that note: “You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart.”