NY Theater Review: Beautiful, the Carole King Musical

beautiful

Official Description: Long before she was Carole King, chart topping musical legend, she was Carole Klein, Brooklyn girl with passion and Chutzpah. She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and, by the time she reached her twenties, had the husband of her dreams and a flourishing career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll. But it wasn’t until her personal life began to crack that she finally managed to find her true voice.

 BEAUTIFUL tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than BEAUTIFUL music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation.

My Take: I was actually surprised by how many songs she had, that I loved and didn’t recognize. I have to say I knew who Carole King was coming in, but having done little to no research coming into the theater there were quite a few surprises. Every song was fabulous and I knew them all, but so many I did not tie to her, especially Locomotion and Natural Woman. those were a shock.

I think this is a hard musical to judge. It should be divided in terms of entertainment factor and musical theater quality factor. Why is this? its hard to judge a musical fairly, when half of it, the musical part, are already proven hits. It is in a distinct disadvantage towards a new musical with all original songs. So for entertainment this show hits it off the park! The songs, as expected, are amazing and I was singing in my seat for most of it. In terms of how it works as a musical my judgement is not as clear.I don’t think the songs are integrated as good as they could be into the story. Some of the songs drag on, having been fully sung by the composers, and then by the artists who sang them, where a quicker combination could work better. Also there is a distinct lack of musical as thoughts songs, as in a traditional musical, most musical numbers are just the actual performance of the songs, against the piano in the studio they were composing from. IT makes sense given the setting, but it also takes away movement from the show. With similar material, I think Jersey boys does a better at integrating the songs into the  story. The highlight I think is Jessie Mueller as Carole king, her performance was fabulous. She even goes through great vocal changes as her confidence grows, which was very impressive. 

In general a great entertaining night at the theater, super fun jukebox musical, and one that most people will enjoy! However, the show could definitely be tighter before it opens. (Disclaimer: I saw it in previews 🙂 )

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