“Will you still love me tomorrow?” asks Carole King in the 1960 hit she penned along with then-husband Gerry Goffin.
Well, since seeing the jukebox musical based on King’s life and career last night, I have only grown to love “Beautiful: the Carole King Musical” even more than I did while seated in the audience.
The hit musical played its 1,000th performance on Broadway earlier this month, and the national tour is playing a limited engagement at the Pantages in Hollywood until July 17.
Like the long-running and successful show “Jersey Boys,” Beautiful tells the story of the very person who wrote the songs that supply the music for the production. (In this case, King wrote much of the music, while her former husband Gerry Goffin, and real-life friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann supplied lyrics and additional music. Goffin, Weil and Mann are also principal characters in the musical.) Because the songs were not written specifically for the musical, and had been previously released, the show is dubbed a “jukebox” musical.
King is played by theatre veteran Abby Mueller, who happens to be the older sister of Jessie Mueller, who won a Tony for originating this same role on Broadway in 2014 and is currently starring in Broadway’s “Waitress.” Abby Mueller’s charisma and powerfully controlled voice are perfect for carrying the weight of the show on her shoulders. She puts her own stamp on King’s iconic, emotional songs, making them distinctly her own while still paying homage to King’s character and her sister’s original work.
As Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, Becky Gulsvig and Ben Fankhauser bring smooth and powerful vocals and witty charm to their roles, which have some of the best dialogue in the book. Liam Tobin, who portrays Gerry Goffin is perfectly winsome, bringing a unique intensity to his challenging role. The entire ensemble is brilliantly talented, with fierce voices and crisp 60s-like choreography.
As a 21st century teenager, I haven’t grown up listening to King’s music (with the exception, of course, being the “Gilmore Girls” theme song on Netflix). Yet, I was so moved by the show’s gorgeous orchestrations and magnetic performances that I decided to go old school and listen to some Carole King in the car this morning. (I made a playlist of both the original recordings and the Broadway cast album, and sometimes I had to check in order to determine which was playing!)
This is a show for any genuine music, theatre, or life-lovers who want an evening of ear candy with just enough emotional baggage to make the show captivating and moving.