BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL Ends Limited 4-Weekend Run Today, 7/7
Manila, Philippines--In their first musical together, Kayla Rivera ("In the Heights," "Side Show") and Nick Varricchio ("A Chorus Line," "Saturday Night Fever") play songwriting duo Carole King and Gerry Goffin in the Philippine premiere of the Broadway hit "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical." The critically-acclaimed local production, which is the second 20th-anniversary offering of Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group, in partnership with ABS-CBN, closes its limited 4-weekend run at the Meralco Theatre in Pasig City today, with performances at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are still available at TicketWorld.com.ph or at the venue.
"[Rivera's] excellent portrayal of Carole King is her new crown jewel. Her ability to convey emotions both through song and simple dialogue was quite effective, and she had great chemistry with costar Nick Varricchio (who played Gerry Goffin)," says Alike.
Categorically a jukebox musical, "Beautiful," which features previously released songs written by King, the songwriting tandem of King and Goffin, and their friendly rival, the songwriting tandem of Cynthia Weil (Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante) and Barry Mann (George Schulze), has its own distinct story type as it tells the early life and career of the Grammy Award-winning superstar Carole King--all these prior to her launch as a solo artist and her masterful breakout second solo album, "Tapestry," released in 1971.
The album included the chart-toppers "I Feel The Earth Move," "So Far Away," "It's Too Late," "Beautiful," "You've Got A Friend," "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," which are all included in the musical for the audience to bob their heads and tap their feet along with!
"What makes 'Beautiful' [the musical] unique is King herself. Her talent, her soul as a human being, her music stands on its own," says Varricchio, who is originally from Ohio. King's song "Bitter With The Sweet" strikes the most to him. "When I play the song on the piano, and when I look at its title on the music sheet, it tells us whenever we're in a hurry, or we're here or there, find time to relax and enjoy the ride." This is exactly what he did, especially in this production--his second-- with Atlantis Theatrical (He first worked with Atlantis Theatrical in the international production of "Saturday Night Fever" in 2015).
Rivera, on the other hand, has been truly grateful for the opportunity to play King, which King herself approved. An up-and-coming composer-lyricist herself, Rivera has gained more confidence through the process. "I've found out that when you compose the melodies, the chords, that helps a lot in bringing emotions into your writing. It makes writing songs a little bit easier in terms of capturing emotions." Among King's most heartfelt songs, it's 'So Far Away" that Rivera says closest to her heart. "My family is back home in Canada when I'm in the Philippines. And when I'm there, I also miss my family who lives here. So it feels like I'm always kind of away from home. The Philippines is my second home. Whereas, Canada is where I grew up."
The show's title song, "Beautiful," has also kept her going on this special journey. "Also, there are specific lyrics in 'Beautiful' that speak to me: 'You've got to get up every morning with a smile on your face'," Rivera says.
She adds, "To see the whole show come together, it's such a beautiful experience. Just hearing the hits--you knew those songs. It's amazing to hear one hit after hit after hit. It's incredible!"
"Beautiful" also stars Philippine theaterdom's biggest names: Gab Pangilinan (The Shirelles, Marilyn Wald), Jill Peña (The Shirelles, Janelle Woods), Teetin Villanueva (Little Eva, The Shirelles), Maronne Cruz (Betty), Tim Pavino (The Drifters), Arman Ferrer (The Drifters), Jep Go (The Drifters), Markus Mann (The Drifters), Nelsito Gomez (Neil Sedaka), Rhenwyn Gabalonzo (The Righteous Brothers), Jamie Wilson (Don Kirshner), Carla Guevara-Laforteza (Genie Klein), Gabby Padilla, Dean Rosen, and Alex Reyes.
Its creative team includes Bobby Garcia, director; Douglas McGrath, book writer; Faust Peneyra, set designer; Aaron Porter, lighting designer; Raven Ong, costume designer; Leslie Espinosa, hair and makeup designer; Cecile Martinez, choreographer; Josh Millican, sound designer, and Farley Asuncion, musical director.
Photo: Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group | Video: Oliver Oliveros