After this huge snowstorm, some classic upbeat music goes a long way; something to remind us all that changes can be incredible and hopeful.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is a wonderful, emotional, and joyful jukebox musical. It is a poignant journey of personal changes and heartbreaks with songs that still hold up after 50 years. The show is filled with electrifying performances and top-notch singing. It is marvelous entertainment with a simple but relatable story.
Beautiful covers the early career of the legendary American singer/songwriter, Carole King (Sarah Bockel), from her start as a teenage songwriter to her smash 1971 solo album, Tapestry. She teams up with husband, Gerry Goffin (Dylan S. Wallach), and together they write chart-topping hits such as The Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and The Drifters’ “Up on the Roof”. But Carole and Gerry have some (friendly) competition with Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann (Alison Whitehurst and Jacob Heimer), another powerhouse song-writing duo. The rivalry and the friendship between the four inspire music that still resonates today. The first act of the show is about work- expectations from superiors, artistic challenges, fickle markets, and balancing work/home life. The struggles are juxtaposed with sparkling performances of the artists Carole and company work for. It is a very entertaining start.
While Carole’s artistic life is massively successful, her marriage is slowly collapsing. When everything falls apart, she makes the decision to take control of her life, in every respect. After years of writing hits for others, she finally uses her voice to tell her story. It is a very significant narrative for anyone who struggles to improve their situation and make a new start. It is fitting that the final act of the show focuses on the writing, recording, and success of Carole’s album Tapestry.
Ms. Bockel is fantastic! She beautifully reveals Carole’s evolution from love-struck teen to overwhelmed working mom to confident artist. She captures Carole King’s vocal style giving even more truth to the journey. Mr. Wallach brings pathos to a character that could have been easily vilified. Ms. Whitehurst and Mr. Heimer provide snappy wit and sex appeal to a couple unique in their own right. The entire cast is fabulous with great singing and smooth choreography. Bravo!
The set is a mix of plain but homey work places and gorgeous glittery glamour. The business of show business can be toiling but the results are bright fun. The costumes are right on point and had some of the fastest changes I’ve ever seen.
Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to listen to my newly purchased CD of King’s Tapestry. That’s right- a CD because sometimes the classics are the way to go.
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical: presented by evenko and Broadway Across Canada. Directed by Marc Bruni. Book by Douglas McGrath. Music and Lyrics by Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil. Show runs until February 17, 2019 at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts, 175 Ste.-Catherine Street West, Montreal. For tickets, call the box office at 514-842-2112 (or 1-866-842-2112) or go to www.placedesarts.com