Theater Review (DC): The National Tour of Beautiful The Carole King Story Shines

Abby Mueller as Carol King. Photo by Nathan Johnson
Abby Mueller as Carol King. Photo by Nathan Johnson

I love watching Musicals where I “learn” something new or discover that some of my favorite songs were written by the same person. One of the biggest and most celebrated musicals of the last few years – The National Tour of misoprostol without rx propecia buy margaret atwood surfacing essays sitting for cpa exam on resume nebenwirkungen cialis 2 viagra begley go to link critique my essay motivation homework can weman take viagra source blog writing service how to write a bio about yourself on facebook dissertation writers for hire follow url english essay quality of a good teacher online assignment writing help how to write a simple introduction about yourself amazon viagra 100mg soy hipertenso puedo tomar cialis erxtra strong viagra center justified resume cheap viagra 100mg how to do your homework fast youtube Beautiful – The Carole King Musical iscurrently doing an extended stint (October 6 – 25th) in Washington, DC at The Kennedy Center.

This is when I tell you that I’m a Carole King (Abby Mueller) newbie. Of course I know who she was/is, but I didn’t think I’ve ever heard her music before and didn’t understand why The Drifters would be featured in a musical about her life. For some reason I always envisioned her as a Bob Dylan type folk singer. Maybe it was the hair and in every picture I’ve seen of her she carries an acoustic guitar.

King and her partner, husband Gerry Goffin (Liam Tobin), were songwriting ingenues who wrote some of the most popular hits of the 60’s and 70s. They wrote hits for The Shirelles, The Drifters, Neil Sedaka and others. Based on the book by Douglas McGrath and Directed by Marc Bruni the show follows the standard, although true, trope of the rise and drama’s faced by tormented musical genius. Although here there’s really didn’t seem to be much true “drama” in King’s life or at the very least the show sort of glosses over it.

Cast of the National Tour of Beautiful - The Carol King Musical. Photo by Nathan Johnson
Cast of the National Tour of Beautiful – The Carol King Musical. Photo by Nathan Johnson

Like King herself the production feels pretty stripped down, bare, and plain but it let’s the music shine without overpowering everything with overly strong, busy set designs or story. It’s basically one hit song after the next and the 2hr plus production moves at a nice clip.

Obviously a show of this caliber has a great team behind it including King and Goffin themselves, but it also prominently features King’s long time friends and rivals, the equally talented songwriting duo Barry Mann (Ben Fankhauser) and Cynthia Weil (Becky Gulsvig). I wonder if the involvement of these four is why the show lacks dramatic meat. Again, I’m not saying this was a bad thing. It just glosses over Goffin’s issues with his cheating and mood shifts. Clearly the guy was probably bipolar. I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to King’s best friend from College who was introduced in the first few minutes but disappeared once she got her contract and started dating Goffin.

Beautiful is all about the music of the times and it features a trip down memory lane and features classics like “Up on The Roof,” “One Fine Day,” “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and an amazing version of Mann and Weil’s “Unchained Melody.” But the show really shines when it’s just Abby Mueller channeling King on hits like “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman,” “Beautiful,” “I Feel The Earth Move,” and of course the gorgeous “You Got a Friend,” which I’m not ashamed to say made this jaded critic misty.

After the traditional ovation (my fav part of any production) the cast gives the audience a revival/jam session with “I Feel The Earth Move,” leaving the crowd feeling ecstatic as they filed out of the theater. The National Tour of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical is at The Kennedy Center, October 6 – 25th.  Upcoming tour stops include Pittsburgh, PA, Boston, Minneapolis, Chicago and others. Check out the official tour website for ticket information.