Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Book by Douglas McGrath
Written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur
Words and Music by Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil
Directed by Marc Bruni
Choreography by Josh Prince
Stephen Sondheim Theatre
March 19, 2017
💉💉💉💉 out of 5.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical was such a warm and satisfying return to seeing shows after an unfortunate 3 month break due to something called “a job”. This was not my first time seeing Beautiful. I was there in the very early days of the show in late October 2013 with the outrageous debut of Jessie Mueller as Carole King. I so remember that first moment the light catches her out on stage at the grand piano simply singing one of many hit songs by Carole King – – my jaw dropped. How could any actress catch that oh, so unique voice of Carole King – – and how could any singer step into all of those high school memories I have with these songs and bring them all to life and let me relive the 1970’s all over again. Jessie Mueller was magical! Simply magical.
To be honest, the first time I saw the show all I really remember was Jessie Mueller and one of my former students Daniel Torres working as a swing in the show. That’s it – – Two people and a lot of REALLY good music.
Now with this return to Beautiful some three years later, I got to see the whole show and appreciate all the other parts that come together to make this show so wonderful. It is such a “beautiful” piece of theatre history that the original Jessie Mueller of Tony winning fame for Beautiful has been replaced by no other than her sister Abbie Mueller. How does this magic strike the very same family? I was worried that I was going to compare the two young ladies and I worried that Abbie might come up short – – but not so! I do think her opening moment at the piano did lack the spark and charisma of Jessie – but once the actual story began, Abbie pulled way ahead with her acting chops. She acted her way through each and every moment. I knew I was going to love the music, but this time I really connected with the character and her struggle.
This show is so much more than just a jukebox collection of great songs. There is a wonderful story full of wit and pathos that moves through all the music and supports the meaning of the songs. It was such a great way to come back to NYC. In 2013 it was all about Jessie Mueller – in 2017 it was all about Beautiful and the entire company that told a story with wonderful music.