Her songs were made smashes by The Drifters, The Shirelles, The Monkees, Aretha Franklin, James Taylor and The Beatles (amongst many others), while her solo breakthrough album “Tapestry” sold more than 25 million copies, yet there’s so much more to Carole King than her artistry and accolades. The Broadway tour of “Beautiful,” which is currently playing the Oriental Theatre until late February, helps fill in many of those personal blanks, though even with so much to learn about one of the world’s most treasured troubadours, the tunes and their tales are still the stars of the show.
“Beautiful” is simply wonderful, not only in its portrayal of an artist who paves the musical way for so many, but also a woman capable of facing any private or professional challenge with just the right combination of class and chutzpah.
When it comes to singing and embodying the main character, Abby Mueller does a marvelous job depicting the Brooklyn’s native ascent from taking the subway to Times Square as a mere teenager to pitch songs through eventual superstardom. Along the way, King meets the slightly older and fascinatingly complex Gerry Goffin (played by an equally believable Liam Tobin), who’s a prodigious lyricist, instant love interest, father of her child and whirlwind husband (well before either is old enough to graduate college).
Although everything starts out rosy, the shotgun scenario quickly hits the rocks, but thanks to so many singles topping the charts, alongside unconditional support from fellow writer friends Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, the newlyweds persevere as long as possible. “Some Kind Of Wonderful,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “The Locomotion” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” (often times portrayed by cast members mirroring their hitmakers) are just a few of their many collaborative triumphs, however King’s true awakening as both a person and a performer come when she finally forges her own path.
Amid the release of 1971’s mostly autobiographical “Tapestry,” the slowly marinating star begins racking up her own singles (“So Far Away,” “You’ve Got A Friend,” I Feel The Earth Move”), four Grammy Awards, plus a concert at the coveted Carnegie Hall. And right up to its encore, “Beautiful” is simply wonderful, not only in its portrayal of an artist who paves the musical way for so many, but also a woman capable of facing any private or professional challenge with just the right combination of class and chutzpah.
“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” continues various dates and times at the Oriental Theatre through February 21. For additional details and ticket information, visit BroadwayInChicago.com and BeautifulOnBroadway.com.