In the ’90s, when most other kids my age were listening to Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I was listening to the music of Carole King. My mother and my aunts introduced me to the healing power of her music when I was a little girl. In 1994, my aunt Maryann bought me a boxed set, Carole King: The Ode Collection (1968-1976) from Costco. I have listened to this boxed set throughout my life and it remains one of my staples in my iTunes playlist.
Much like King’s music itself, “Beautiful—The Carole King Musical” is a cathartic journey of the heart. In the touring production, King is portrayed by Abby Mueller. Muller’s younger sister Jessie Mueller portrayed the same role on Broadway.
Abby illuminated the stage at Broward Center for the Performing Arts bringing King’s character to life as her vulnerable love affair with the roving-eyed lothario Gerry Goffin unfurls. The lyrics to their songs provided a diary of sorts for their romance. As they penned hit after hit with such beloved favorites as “Will You Still Love Me,” “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “Up On The Roof,” it’s impossible not to connect with King’s pain as she struggles to stay relevant in the evolving sound of the early ’70s as she fights to keep her family together.
As groups such as The Drifters, The Righteous Brothers and The Shirelles comes to life on stage, the impact of King and Goffin’s music on American culture is undeniable. I found myself giddy at various points in the show as hit after hit was performed. “Oh my God, they wrote that one! And that one,”I squealed in my seat. The music in this show is incredible and the cast, which includes Ben Fankhauser as Barry Mann and Becky Gulsvig as Cynthia Weil, is a force to be reckoned with.
It truly was beautiful watching King go from teeny bopper girl song writer to a solid, dynamic solo artist who would become a voice of a generation and inspire many generations to come.
“Beautiful—The Carole King Musical” runs at Broward Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday May 22. Tickets are available at Browardcenter.org. Then the show continues on a tour throughout America. It returns to South Florida Feb. 1-5 in 2017 for a stop at Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. Visit Beautifulonbroadway.com for details.