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Review: BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center

Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of Carole King. Long before she was a 'Natural Woman', Carole King was a teenage songwriter in the 1960's who wrote for many musical acts such as Bobby Vee, The Drifters, The Shirelles, Little Eva, The Chiffons, The Beatles, and The Monkees all before she became one of the most successful singer-songwriters in music history.

The musical made its Broadway debut on January 12th, 2014. It went on to receive 7 Tony Award nominations (including Best Musical) and the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.

Douglas McGrath's Tony nominated book guides us through the course of 13 years as Carole King goes through a difficult relationship with husband (and writing partner) Gerry Goffin and competition with fellow songwriting team (and friends) Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil. Not only does McGrath offer up some funny lines of dialogue, but they're also very informative.

Leading the show is Abby Mueller (whose Tony-Winning sister, Jessie originated this role on Broadway) as Carole King. Rather than doing some sort of impersonation, Mueller portrays King with such authenticity as she grows up through the years, and the audience cheers for her right in the middle of several scenes without a song. Liam Tobin is also perfectly cast as the caring, yet conflicted Gerry Goffin. But the real scene stealers are Ben Fankhauser as Barry Mann and Becky Gulsvig as Cynthia Weil. Gulsvig brings some sass into the show and Fankhauser (whom I thought was a stand-out in NCT's recent production of Next to Normal) is as charming as he is hilarious. Everyone of the principals have such believable onstage chemistry!

There really is a lot to like about this show. From the songs (I urge you not to read the list in the playbills) to the inventive staging by director Marc Bruni to Josh Prince's energetic choreography to the well constructed set designed by Derek McLane to the flashy lighting designs by Peter Kaczorowski to the color costumes designed by Alejo Vietti.

No matter what demographic you are, this show is for everyone with a heart. Anyone who sees it should have the time of their lives! This national touring production is currently playing at Durham Performing Arts Center through October 4th.

For more information gegarding the tour, please visit:

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From This Author - Jeffrey Kare

Jeffrey Kare currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. Having been born and raised in Northeast Ohio, Jeffrey took interest in live theater at age 11. He also had the great pleasure of seeing s... (read more about this author)

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