Review: Beautiful

I finally, finally, finally got to see Beautiful last week. The musical based on the life of the incredible Carole King set to her music was an incredibly well written show. I mean: literally there is nothing wrong with it. At all. It was totally entertaining and had all of the feels in it – especially when her marriage was falling apart. But you know what else? I’d seen this show before. It was called Jersey Boys. And Motown The Musical

As well crafted as this musical was (is), I think it is the musical -traw that broke the camel’s back for me as far as jukebox musicals. The formula is stale and I was, at times, a little bored because I was all, “Oh yeah, now comes this part. Oh yeah, insert that song.” 

Carole King’s music is great; though she spent the first part of her career writing for other people. I liked the last sequence of the show, where she started recording music herself, much more than the rest because her solo songs that she recorded herself was much more my style. The music she wrote for other people was pop-y crap. You’ll recognize a lot of it for sure, even if you didn’t know it was King’s music, but her post-divorce music is just better, IMO. 

Chilina Kennedy, who took over the title role after Jessie Mueller’s exit two years ago, was on that night and she was incredible. At least her performance was incredible (I feel like I have to say that because I have no idea how she compares to King herself, because I’ve never seen or heard her perform). It’s always a pleasure to see Liz Larsen onstage, who played Genie Klein, and Scott J. Campbell, from the tour of American Idiot, was awesome as Gerry Goffin.

King’s story sort of reminds me of Adele’s story, too. Break up, write some emo songs, record emo album that becomes a hit. Carole King kind of did the same thing before Adele had ever sung a note. 

The show is formulaic but very enjoyable. The cast is having a great time, as is the audience (there was a middle-aged man standing up in front of his seat and dancing as the curtain went up before Act 2). I’m very glad I saw it and learned about Carole King. 

It Only Takes a Taste

Last Wednesday I went to my final show of a marathon (for me nowadays) of 7 shows in 2.5 weeks, Waitress. I hadn’t (and still haven’t, though it’s on my queue) seen the movie, hadn’t listened to any of the music, and I don’t know any of Sara Bareilles’ music (maybe a partial lie – I’ve heard, like, one song before), but I heard it was good, and the last row of the mezzanine is super cheap (and actually not awful, take note!). I’d also not yet had the pleasure of seeing Jessie Mueller in a leading role so I was quite excited for that, too. 

I arrived at the theatre to the scent of baked goods (good job, producing team, that was the right choice), immediately became hungry, and took my seat. The rear mezzanine seats at the Brooks Atkinson are not bad at all. It’s not like the St. James where you feel miles above the stage (that’s the balcony, I guess, but still, they’re awful seats). I looked at the cast and only recognized a few of the names in addition to Mueller’s. A cast of unknowns – awesome!

I knew the basic plot of the show – waitress in a redneck town gets knocked up – but not more than that. It’s a pretty typical plot as far as plots about girls getting knocked up in redneck towns go. Abusive husband? Check. Witty group of friends/colleagues? Check. The boss who’s also a semi-father figure/advice giver? Check. A new love interest? Check. 

Jenna (Mueller)’s friends at the diner Dawn (Kimiko Glenn) and Becky (Keala Settle) were both hysterical, and super talented. I realized at intermission that Kimiko is So-So from Orange is the New Black and she has a terrific voice and she’s a great actress. Drew Gehling (who plays Jenna’s new love interest, and her OBGYN, Dr. Pomatter) was just delightful. He was nervously awkward but very genuinely sweet. Dawn’s love interest, Ogie (Christopher Fitzgerald), totally steals every scene he’s in. Give him an honorary Tony Award for comedy or something. 

The show’s conclusion is logical, but disappointing. I guess such is life, too. I really enjoyed the score (good job, Bareilles), as well as the lighting. To be honest, I don’t remember much of the choreography. Side note: the sets are all automated. At the end of the first scene of the second act, an announcement went over the PA system saying they were taking a 10 minute break for technical difficulties. Shortly thereafter we got back on track. #livetheatre

I’m not sure whether it was the short pause in the second act, or the overall length of the show, but although I really enjoyed it, it felt it was 15-20 minutes too long. It definitely worth a visit though, especially if you like Sara Bareilles. 

Last thing: I totally bought the $10 pie-in-a-jar at intermission. You just want some baked goods, any baked goods, after the first act. Nom.