Absolutely Beautiful: It’s Finally Here
Ever since the announcement over a year ago, I have been waiting patiently for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical to finally make it to Music City. It did not disappoint. Without question, thought, or circumstance, this is the best production of the season. As much as I loved A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, seeing this play makes you wonder how in the world it won the Tony for Best Musical when you realize this was up against it. I am still shocked. The music, the production value, the sheer talent it takes to mimic Carole King’s voice to a perfect proverbial “t”…? I just can’t say enough good things about this show.
Playwright Douglas McGrath, using music that made the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s what it was, weaves a story telling the life of one of the most influential songwriters to ever set pen to paper. The music of Carole King and her writing partner/husband Gerry Goffin, is brought to life in this two-and-a-half hour tale of love, loss, heartbreak, and finding your own way. Songs like "Locomotion," "Chains," and "It Might as Well Rain Until September," plus nearly every song on her Grammy Award machine that was Tapestry make up just a little bit of the music that you’ll hear. The staging also has a neat concept with the moving stage and pianos. The costuming is also a lot of fun. I saw Deception and the Princess from Play Dance Bar in the audience. The quick change-reveal like The Shirelle’s did in the first act is something out of their playbook.
If you read anything I’ve written in the past for O&AN, you have probably figured out I have an affinity for singer songwriters. I saw this play on Broadway a few years ago. While it didn’t create my love of singer songwriters, admittedly, it did make it much worse. The craft that goes into songwriting has been a huge inspiration to me while living in this town. It’s everywhere you look. There are music venues in every corner of this city. That means you’re bound to run into a few here and there that really make a difference in how you hear music. Hearing this music told this way will leave you inspired and ready to take on the world. I know I do!
Kudos to Julia Knitel who plays Carole. As an actor, it takes skill to do a play like this. Not only are you playing an instrument, you’re also acting. I felt like it was really Carole. Hearing her interviews and even listening to Tapestry, this is an actress who has done her homework and knows what she is doing. She is as good if not better than the one I saw on Broadway.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical will be at TPAC's Jackson Hall until Sunday. Very few tickets remain and can be purchased online. Photo: Julia Knitel (“Carole King”), photographed by Joan Marcus.