BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL – this hit musical takes the life and music of Carole King and weaves the songs with the triumphs and the heartbreak of her life to create a, shall we say beautiful, musical about finding success in embracing yourself and your voice.
Carole Kline, as she was known before she made her professional name Carole King (Sarah Bockwel), was a 16 year old musician who had a dream to make it in the music business. Along the way she finds a lyricist and partner in her husband Gerry Goffin (Dylan S. Wallach), and friends in rival songwriting team Cynthia Weil (Alison Whitehurst) and Barry Mann (Jacob Heimer). By her late twenties, with the husband of her dreams, two kids, and a successful career, Carole finds her life begins to crumble as she loses her marriage, but beings to find her voice.
Bockel as Carole brings plenty of emotion and grit to the role, making King’s journey both relatable and touching as she struggles to be wife, mother, and career while being true to what she wants and deserves. Her Carole grows into herself, while growing into her iconic sound to perfectly mirror the arc of the show.
As Carole’s husband Gerry, Wallach has a fantastic voice and charm that makes it believable that Carole would continue to fight for this relationship even with his bad behavior. Whitehurst and Heimer, as their songwriting friends and rivals bring some sweetness and some sparks to their couple with their witty banter between the droll Cynthia and the loving if anxious Barry.
The score is one hit after another, all of which the audience greatly enjoyed, both for the nostalgia and the fantastic performances. With hits’ like (You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman”, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”, “One Fine Day”, “You’ve Got a friend” and more, the music and the performance are irresistibly endearing. Standouts numbers from the ensemble include “On Broadway” by the Drifters, “The Locomotion” by Little Eva, and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles.
Like most jukebox musicals, this one takes popular music and builds it into a musical. The difference between this show and others is that, because the story follows the journey of the person creating the very songs performed the music truly supplements and enhances the show. There is no sense that they had to shoehorn exposition and plot in a few lines to get to the next song.
The scenic design by Derek Mclane keeps everything in the right time period, while sliding effortlessly in and out of place as the scenes transition from one location to another. Costumes by Alejo Vietti are lovely, with some remarkable costumes conversions for the Shirelles and Little Eva.
The show showcases the fantastic music catalogue of the time, and while this is a biography, it’s a Broadway version and doesn’t delve too deeply into the gender politics or hardships that may have occurred.
BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL is a heartfelt musical, with some fantastic songs and performances. Playing at Broadway San Diego Civic Theater through October 7th, see the show before “It’s Too Late.”
For ticket and showtime information go to www.broadwaysd.com