BWW Review: BEAUTIFUL at Popejoy Hall
On June 12, the national tour of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical came to Popejoy Hall, bringing with it a glimpse into the incredible life of singer-songwriter Carole King. Featuring a plethora of hit songs that King had a hand in creating for the past 60 years as well as an incredible cast, Beautiful kept the audience fully entertained for the entirety of the two-hour production. The musical kept the audience of all ages smiling, laughing, and cheering throughout the evening.
Beautiful explores the life of King from selling her first hit song at 16 to a record company in New York City to a performance at Carnegie Hall in 1971. The jukebox musical explores all the ups and downs throughout King's rise to stardom as she moves from writing songs for artists such as The Drifters, The Shirelles, and Little Eva to having a solo career as a singer herself. Along the way, King's relationship with her first husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin is touched on, as are her friendships with lyricist Cynthia Weil, composer Barry Mann, and music publisher Donnie Kirshner.
The cast of Beautiful each gave nearly flawless performances, bringing King's life to the stage in an engaging way that made the two hours just fly by. Due to illness, understudy Karlee Harwood stepped onto stage as Carole King and gave a stellar performance that was equal parts heartwarming, hilarious, and heart-breaking. Her performances of "So Far Away" set the tone, letting the audience know the delightful evening they were in store for. Her moving performance at the end of "One Fine Day", as King realizes her marriage isn't what she thought it was, gives the audience a glimpse into her inner turmoil. As Gerry Goffin, Dylan S. Wallach gave a nuanced performance, exploring the pressures Goffin was under throughout his life, from having a family at a young age to dealing with a mental breakdown. Alison Whitehurst and Jacob Heimer, as Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann respectively, and their impeccable comedic timing left the audience laughing whenever they were onstage. James Clow, as Don Kirshner was a solid presence in King's life, offering support and friendship as well as opportunities to allow King's careers to flourish.
With a wonderful soundtrack of some of the greatest hits from the 1950's and beyond, Beautiful is a delightful experience for theatregoers of all ages. Full of wonderful performances, the amazing story of Carole King's rise to become one of the most popular singer-songwriters today is an experience that will leave the audience humming some of King's spectacular songs for days to come.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is at Popejoy Hall from June 13th- June 16th. Performances are at 7:30 PM Thursday, June 13thand Friday, June 14th, 2 pm and 8 pm Saturday, June 15th, and 1 pm and 6:30 pm Sunday, June 16th. Tickets range from $48 - $88 plus fees. They can be purchased at unmtickets.com, the UNM Bookstore ticket office, the UNM ticket office at Dreamstyle Arena, or by phone at 925-5858 or 877-664-8661.
image credit: Joan Marcus