Thursday, December 10, 2015

Review of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. The book was by Douglas McGrath and the words and music were by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. It was directed by Marc Bruni and the music director was Susan Draus. The choreographer was Josh Prince. It was about Carole King (Abby Mueller) who became an amazing singer-songwriter starting in the 60s. She is a very big inspiration to a lot of women, and if you see this musical she will be even more of an inspiration to you. She goes through so many very hard times, but she always gets through them and she keeps writing her beautiful music. I thought that this was an amazing show. The music is so lovely and the acting is fabulous; you just feel all the things the characters are feeling.

The idea of the show is that they would have little intervals between the scenes about writing the songs to show the song they were writing in a performance. I thought it was super cool how they made that part of the show. There was a song called "On Broadway" that was really really good. I loved how Cynthia Weil (Becky Gulsvig) was so obsessed with Broadway and Broadway musicals. And she named a song she wrote with Barry Mann (Ben Fankhauser) "On Broadway" so she could still have some of what she wanted even though she was writing pop songs. The Drifters (Josh A. Dawson, Paris Nix, Noah J. Ricketts, and Dashaun Young) had this amazing dance to go with the song. I see why they were called The Drifters because they kind of glided around the stage. There was another song called "The Locomotion" that Carole King and Gerry Goffin (Liam Tobin) wrote together which their babysitter Little Eva (Ashley Blanchet) ended up performing which I thought was hilarious. That shows you that they meet a lot of really talented people and they don't even realize it until they give a song to their babysitter and it becomes a hit. All the other songwriters are like "Why are they so lucky? Why do they keep getting hits out of their babysitter?" I felt like the dance that went with it was super cool too. I've seen it before online but it was super cool to see it live. There was kind of like a conga line but you were making your arms move like the wheels of the train. I thought it was a really fun song and dance.

Carole King had a group of friends who were songwriters, including her husband Gerry and Cynthia and Barry. They would all hang out together, but sometimes things would go wrong between Gerry and Carole because they were going through a really hard time in their relationship. They had gotten married when they were very young because they were in love but also she was pregnant. He's finding that he feels like he doesn't belong with Carole anymore even though it is pretty clear that he does. That is one of the things that makes this play super sad. At the beginning you really like Gerry, but at the end you just feel sorry that he made such stupid mistakes and he missed his chance at an amazing life. Even though this story is sad, there are also some very inspiring moments like when Carole tells Gerry that they are over and she finally realizes that she can't change him and if he is just going to hurt everyone so much she doesn't want to be with him anymore. People should be inspired to stand up for what they want and what is right. There is a song called "It's Too Late" that I think comes out of what happens in that scene. And I felt like it was a very beautiful song and, with the inspiration of it, it made it very sad but also happy because you could see Carole King would probably live a better life without him. That big change in her life also lets her express herself more and she doesn't let herself stay behind the scenes. She shows the world that she is not just a songwriter but also an amazing singer.

I felt like Cynthia Weil was the comic relief but she was also Carole King's best friend. She would not just have the comedy lines, she would also try to help Carole in any way possible because it seemed like she really loved her. I loved this one scene where Barry and Cynthia had first met. They are writing a song and they have stayed up all night and they both say that they want to keep it strictly professional, but then it is clear that they don't! Her personality was very outgoing but she was also very competitive. I love when she comes in complaining about how she and Barry aren't selling any songs but Gerry and Carole are selling songs that are hits with their babysitter. She was inspiring too because she was such a good friend and she wrote such good lyrics that people still love today.

People who would like this show are people who like inspiring stories, beautiful music, and talented babysitters. I think that people should definitely go see this show. I think it is an absolutely gorgeous story. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. I loved it!

Photos: Joan Marcus

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