Beautiful The Carole King Musical

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Having seen a bunch of mediocre jukebox musicals in the past six months (After Midnight excepted), my expectations were not all that high. But this musical, which opens officially Jan. 12th, was spectacular — easily the best thing I’ve seen in a long time. Tracking the early career of both Carole King (Klein), her husband Jerry Goffin, and the other Brill building songwriting team of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, it provides a view of the ’60s punctuated very often by the amazing music of my teen years.

The story is told well, and while it only takes her career up to the release of her Tapestry album (at 25 million copies, one of the all-time best sellers) the 2-1/2 hours goes all too quickly. Jessie Mueller gives just the right performance as the gangly, awkard, unsure-of-herself Carole King, with some terrific singing. The singers and dancers who play the Drifters, Shirelles, Righteous Brothers and other groups can’t help but bring smiles to your face. And the staging is very imaginative — think original “Company” set but with the Brill building (1650 Broadway) instead of apartments. I can’t recommend it highly enough — will see it again once it opens to figure out what they would change.

Howard Morgan

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