It may open with a somber monologue, but Beautiful: The Carole King Musical does more than sing the blues.
Beautiful follows the career of artist Carole King (Sarah Bockel) as she solidifies her status as a powerhouse singer and songwriter while navigating the changing music industry and her marriage to writing partner Gerry Goffin (Andrew Brewer).
The show begins with King’s early years in New York City as she dreams of writing pop hits for the radio as a composer for music producer Donnie Kirshner (James Clow). She teams up with (and later marries) Goffin, and the duo produces classics like “The Loco-motion,” “One Fine Day,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.”
As Beautiful progresses, King transforms from teen-pop princess to certified hit-making star. While King’s career continues to soar, her marriage dissolves after Goffin’s instability and infidelity rock the couple. King’s pain and emotion are evident, culminating in a powerful performance of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
Beautiful also chronicles King’s friendship with songwriting team Barry Mann (Jacob Heimer) and Cynthia Weil (Sarah Goeke), and the three share a touching moment towards the end of the show as King unveils “You’ve Got a Friend” before leaving New York to move to Los Angeles. Coming full circle, the show closes where it began: with King on stage behind a piano, belting out, “Beautiful.”
Hershey’s production has everything you would expect from a Broadway-style show: great chemistry between the cast, dazzling choreography and costumes and soulful music. The dialogue is snappy and funny, spotlighting King’s optimism and sense of humor, even as her marriage and career encounter snags.
Even for those who aren’t major fans of King, Beautiful is a fun, tap-your-toes, snap-your-fingers-to-the- beat show that’s certainly worth seeing.