Everyone knows the songs of Carole King, either those she recorded personally or ones cut by the lofty likes of Aretha Franklin, James Taylor, The Drifters, The Monkees, The Shirelles and even The Beatles. Yet outside of an ardent fan, chances are most listeners don’t know all that much about the stories surrounding the tunes or the tumultuous but untimely courageous personal journey of the reluctant star.
After all, King is right up there with The Fab Four, Bob Dylan and the absolute upper tier of troubadours with Sarah Bockel conveying every one of those engaging lyrics as if her life depends upon it.
Thankfully, that’s all in the process of changing now that “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” is back on the road, including a lengthy visit to the Cadillac Palace Theatre well into January. But between all the countless chart-toppers, along with a cast that performs every last one of them with the utmost quality and reverence, it’s a must see for any music lover.
After all, King is right up there with The Fab Four, Bob Dylan and the absolute upper tier of troubadours with Sarah Bockel conveying every one of those engaging lyrics as if her life depends upon it. And for the women she’s portraying, it practically did from the time she was a mere teen sneaking off to Times Square to get discovered, then falling into a whirlwind romance with future songwriter partner Gerry Goffin (Andrew Brewer), becoming pregnant and briskly tying the knot.
All of those life experiences naturally work their way into the writer’s room, which also neighbors the couple’s best friends and equally prominent musical pair Barry Mann (Jacob Heimer) and Cynthia Weil (Sarah Goeke). But as the pals lovingly compete against one another to land a higher ranking single, relationships behind the scenes begin to unravel, mainly from Goffin’s puzzling and conflicted behavior.
As devastating as it is for King, such an intense strain on both their collaboration and marriage is pivotal in her development as an artist, ultimately paving the way for 1971’s landmark “Tapestry” album, which took home four Grammy Awards, sold more than 25 million copies and had her headlining at none other than Carnegie Hall. With a set list comprised of all the classics (“Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “The Locomotion,” “You’ve Got A Friend,” “A Natural Woman,” “I Feel The Earth More” and so many more), the soundtrack mirrors its title, but even more “Beautiful” is King’s ability to turn the most uncertain circumstances into a relatable, remarkable career that will often be imitated, but given its vast impact across numerous styles and generations, has no chance of ever being duplicated to this degree.