BWW Review: BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL at Wharton Center ends Jan 15
I felt the earth move under my feet when the audience of over 1000 people jumped to their feet to give the cast of BEAUTIFUL: THE Carole King MUSICAL a standing ovation, accompanied by thunderous applause. The Wharton Center venue was absolutely fabulous! Sunday night is the final performance of this amazing show.
This is the story of Carole King, the genius who began her career in the early 60's at the age of 16. She was in college at the time because she skipped two grades. She has won four Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for her songwriting. She is the recipient of the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the first woman to be so honored.
I first met (the real) Carole King in 2008 when she was making rounds at gay establishments around the country. I got a Facebook message telling me I needed to go down to the place where they have Drag Queen Bingo because Carole King had a very important message for the gay community. I didn't really know who Carole King was, although I had heard the name. Carole's career started in 1959, and I wasn't born yet, so I really wasn't someone who bought records penned by anyone during her zenith. I remember asking myself, "Oh, is Carole King a famous lesbian?"
She showed up in front of a group of 15 to 20 people, and told us it was imperative that we vote for Barack Obama, because he promised to help gay people get equal rights, including the right to marry. I didn't have any particular political alliances at the time, but I did have a husband living in exile in Italy because the immoral, unconstitutional "Defense of Marriage" act barred his immigration to America. Carole King was right, and she turned me into a fan, despite not really knowing much about her before. Moreover, my husband got his green card, as Obama promised. Incidentally, he was there, with me, at the show, and now we love ANYTHING Carole King.
The Musical is the biography of her early years, from selling her first song, to performing at Carnegie Hall.
Featuring a book by Tony® and Academy® Award-nominee Douglas McGrath, direction by Marc Bruni and choreography by Josh Prince. The show opened on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre (125 West 43 Street) in January 2014, where it has since broken all box office records and recently became the highest-grossing production in the Theatre's history. I was there; I saw it when it first came out. I was floored.
"Long before she was Carole King, chart-topping music legend, she was Carol 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," said the producers.
"Beautiful features a stunning array of beloved songs written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil, including "I Feel the Earth Move," "One Fine Day," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "You've Got A Friend" and the title song. The creative team of Beautiful also includes Derek McLane (Set Design), Alejo Vietti (Costume Design), Peter Kaczorowski (Lighting Design), Brian Ronan (Sound Design), Charles G. LaPointe (Wig and Hair Design), Steve Sidwell (Orchestrations and Music Arrangements), Jason Howland (Music Supervision) and John Miller (Music Coordination)" said the producers.
It's a hike from Detroit to East Lansing, but this show is worth it! As a cultural anthropologist, I would say this show is a must for anyone wanting to enrich his life on topics about American culture. There are 2 shows today, and it's a beautiful, sunny day for a Sunday drive!
It's also a great opportunity to get into the mind of a genius - that's always a bonus!
Photos by Joan Marcus.