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A Beautiful Night on Broadway

Jesse Mueller Lights up the Life of Carole King in "Beautiful"

I don't easily rave about Broadway shows. Firstly, I am very picky about which shows I choose—I usually want an endorsement of some kind from one of my colleagues before heading over to the Great White Way. By it was no arm-twister choosing to see Beautiful—The Carole King Musical, the play about the rise of one of America's greatest 20th century pop-folk artists, the multi-talented Carole King. The play traces King's first beginnings as a songwriter back in high school in Brooklyn, following her career through her working and personal relationship with lyricist Gerry Goffin (whom she married in 1959, and divorced 10 years later), and then her path to superstardom in the 1970s as a solo artist. The Goffin-King duo were dazzlingly prolific, writing for groups like the Shirelles, The Drifters and Bobby Vee. Jessie Mueller is heartbreakingly authentic as a young, insecure, and powerfully gifted King, and the play combines energizing pop numbers with the various bands Goffin and King wrote for, with more sentimental, deeply moving solo scenes in which King is playing the piano and singing her own tunes. Jake Epstein, as Goffin, and Mueller have an on-stage chemistry that is as genuine as they come. I couldn't wait for intermission to be over to see the Second Act. If you're puzzling over what recent Broadway show to invest in, don't think twice: it's a Beautiful thing. 

>> Stephen Sondheim Theatre, 124 W. 43rd St., 212.239.6200

 

Photo by Joan Marcus