Left – Naomi Price, Esther Hannaford and Stefanie Caccamo. Cover – Josh Piterman, Mat Verevis, Amy Lehpamer and Esther Hannaford. Photos – Joan Marcus
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is all kinds of wonderful. This production focuses on the early life and career of King. It does a brilliant job of showing the extensive impact her songwriting had on the music scene. As she started each song, nostalgia and joy came first and then awe and respect. King wrote so many popular and chart topping hits that it is hard to keep up with her.
This musical is a remarkable snap shot of four creative friends and the music they engendered. It takes a look behind the scenes at the collaboration of King and her first husband Gerry Goffin as well as the dynamic duo Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. For some time these four musical powerhouses managed to remain firm friends while competing relentlessly for No 1 in the charts.
Casting director, Lauren Wiley, has cast this musical superbly. Not just the main actors but the entire ensemble could not only sing but make you believe that you were there gathered around a wireless doing the locomotion.
Esther Hannaford as Carole King is exceptional. She sang King’s songs beautifully and managed to portray emotion behind every word. I never questioned Hannaford as King. Her stage presence commands complete attention and she has a way of disarming any doubt about who she is. Hannaford portrays King through some of her early personal evolutions with grace and charm. From a 16 year old with great ambition to a pregnant teen, from a hard working musician mother to nervous lead vocal singer to Carole King at Carnegie Hall, her first concert performance in front of an audience, Hannaford nailed them all.
Amy Lehpamer portrays the dynamic and determined Cynthia Weil and she is marvelous. Her demeanor is divine and she effortlessly makes you laugh. She is sharp, sassy and takes on the role of one of the great lyricists of the time with confidence and makes it her own.
Both Josh Piterman as Gerry Goffin and Mat Verevis as Barry Mann were well cast. Both leading men brought strong vocals to the stage and were a joy to watch.
Humor and pathos shift seamlessly, the songs are pitched perfectly, and the scenes change in perfect rapport. From dialogue delivery to song selection the timing was impeccable.
The set and lighting were fantastic. They never distracted you from the actors instead they created perfect moments for the story to unfold. There were subtle masterpieces in the intricate background of the offices at 1650 Broadway, where so many magic music moments happened. Pianos and couches spun on and off the stage but the movements never seemed out of the ordinary.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is beautiful. The music will bubble in your blood and the story will sit with you for days. This production is brilliant and King is a Goddess of groove.
Michaele Cassel in association with Paul Blake & Sony/ATV Music Publishing & Mike Bosner presents
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
by Douglas McGrath
Directed by Marc Bruni