Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

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A musical triumph detailing a legendary singer/songwriter's rise to fame.

Broadway at TPAC presents:
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
May 23 – 28, 2017 • All ages
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 • tpac.org
Showtimes: Tue – Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m., Sun 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $35 – $80

Jukebox musicals tend to be either hit or miss with seldom few falling into the middle ground. Rest assured, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is a bona fide theatrical hit!

This two-time Tony Award-winning musical made its world premiere in San Francisco in the fall of 2013. Its Broadway debut came in January 2014. This musical experience has it all — great music (no doubt, it’s Carole King!); a captivating storyline based on real-life; impeccable acting and singing by a remarkably talented cast; and inventive scenic design by Derek McLane that perfectly captures the time period of the ’50s through early ’70s.

Beautiful follows King’s compelling rise to fame. The story begins with her first big break at the famed 1650 Broadway publishing company when she was just a 16-year-old girl living in Brooklyn with her single mother. The next two-and-a-half hours takes the audience on an endearing, dramatic and, at times, comical journey of King’s early career. It’s the stuff great songs are made of. Beautiful gives us a fascinating glimpse into the events in King’s life that were inspiration for some of her signature hits like “So Far Away,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “It’s Too Late,” “Beautiful” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”

If you’re sensing the Tapestry theme with the aforementioned tunes, it’s not by accident. Beautiful takes us to the dawn of King’s recording career when she created and released that landmark 1971 album — it won four Grammy Awards and has sold more than 25 million units worldwide. Beautiful ends with King’s first concert appearance in front of an audience on June 18, 1971, which happened to be at Carnegie Hall (not too shabby!).

IMMENSE TALENT

Multi-talented Julia Knitel stars in the leading role straight off a year in the Broadway company. She undeniably captures the essence of King’s mannerisms, vocal intonations and charisma. She’s an incredibly gifted singer with lots of charm and grace. No doubt, she’d make Carole King herself proud!

Each supporting cast member does a top-notch job of bringing the relationships surrounding King to life. They include Suzanne Grodner (the hysterical Genie Klein, King’s mother), Liam Tobin (Gerry Goffin, King’s songwriting partner and first husband), James Clow (music publisher/producer Don Kirshner), Ben Fankhauser (Barry Mann) and Erika Olson (Cynthia Weil).

It’s great fun to get a peek into the competitive friendship King and Goffin had with Mann and Weil along with a good dose of the latter two’s collaborative genius on numbers like “On Broadway” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”

King’s life is a dynamic story for someone who only wanted to write songs and never pictured herself being a singer. One of the most powerful and poignant moments in Beautiful is when Knitel so beautifully executes King’s realization that she’s the one who needs to be singing the songs she’s writing. It’s a powerful moment of self-awareness and self-confidence.

If you’re a huge Carole King fan, you’re gonna LOVE this musical. If you’re not so familiar with King’s music, you’re gonna LOVE this musical — and it’s a perfect way to introduce your kids to the handiwork of one of music’s greatest songwriting talents!

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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