Singer/songwriter and Brooklyn native Carole King is at the center of the new Broadway musical "Beautiful." NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.
It's easy to compare "Beautiful" to "Jersey Boys." Both tap into unforgettable song catalogs featuring famed names in the music industry. But while I enjoyed both immensely, dramatically speaking, Carole King can't quite compete with those wild boys of the Four Seasons. That aside, "Beautiful" marks another high note on Broadway.
From humble Brooklyn roots, songwriter Carole King broke into the pop music business through sheer talent and determination. She met lyricist Gerry Goffin as a teenager. They married, wrote dozens of hit songs, had children, sadly split up, and from that pain and heartache, she emerged a superstar.
So if it lacks the edgy sturm and drang of the Jersey Boys, the success of "Beautiful" lies in its earnest telling and performing. Doug McGrath's libretto, if somewhat clichéd, delivers movingly with nicely honed humor.
Director Marc Bruni leads a terrifically entertaining production putting the music front and center. Starting with the #1 hit "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," which King co-wrote at age 18, there's a remarkable playlist, including "You've Got a Friend," "A Natural Woman" and "I Feel The Earth Move."
Add to that the incredible contributions of King's songwriting friends - Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann - who gave us "On Broadway" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," among so many others.
It all sings quite beautifully thanks to a first-rate cast. Jake Epstein manages to keep the flawed Goffin sympathetic, even as he breaks King's heart. Jarrod Spector, fresh from a long stint in "Jersey Boys," nails Mann's menschy humor. and Anika Larsen as Weil lends a spunky appeal.
But it's Jessie Mueller, projecting King's ineffable naturalness, who gives "Beautiful" its special quality. She has a soulful gentleness that captures not only King's unique talents but her generous spirit as well.
Borrowing from one of King's song titles, fans will find "Beautiful" some kind of wonderful show.