By Mike Cohen
Long before she was Carole King, she was Carol Klein, a young Jewish girl growing up in Brooklyn with a passion and gift for music. As a teenager, she fought her way into the record business and began writing hits for the biggest music acts around.
Beautiful- The Carole King Musical tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, alongside her husband and fellow songwriter Gerry Goffin, and her fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. Along the way, she managed to make beautiful music and become one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history.
I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at Montreal’s opening night of Beautiful at Place des Arts (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier). This fantastic production continues through February 17. While other family members had the opportunity to see this show with the original cast on Broadway, for whatever reason I chose another activity that day. Well I have made up for that error. We do not get Broadway shows too frequently here in Montreal, and one this moving really is not to be missed.
Beautiful features a stunning array of beloved songs written by Carole King/Gerry Goffin and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil, including “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and of course, the title song. The show opened on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in January 2014, where it has since broken all box office records and recently became the highest grossing production in the theatre’s history.
In this touring version, Sarah Bockel portrays King. The Chicago native does an outstanding job. Others who are part of this Tony and Grammy Award-winning hit musical include Dylan S. Wallach (Gerry Goffin) and Alison Whitehurst (Cynthia Weil), Jacob Heimer (Barry Mann), James Clow (Don Kirshner) and Suzanne Grodner (Genie Klein).
This show really keeps you on your toes—it features in equal measure intimate numbers and big production numbers. In fact, most songs begin by being played around a piano by the writers during the creative process, until the lights flash and suddenly the group that made these songs famous appears to sing them in full. The stark contrast between King’s understated versions and the way the songs were popularized is always entertaining.
“I am thrilled that Beautiful continues to delight and entertain audiences around the globe […] and that we are entering our fourth amazing year of touring the U.S.,” producer Paul Blake said. “We are so grateful that over five million audience members have been entertained by our celebration of Carole’s story and her timeless music.”
Since the tour’s launch September 2015, Beautiful has played 1,130 performances in 82 cities over 142 weeks to nearly 2.5 million patrons.
Shows are Feb 13- 16 at 8 pm, with 2 pm matinees Feb 16 and 17, and closing night at 7:30 pm. Info: www.evenko.ca. Tickets are on sale at the Place des Arts Box Office. You can call 1-866 842-2112. Tickets start at $45.85 (including taxes and service fees).