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.