The day after the Tony Awards this year, I called my mom and requested that we see the musical Beautiful for my birthday in August. Since Jessie Mueller, the lead in Beautiful, won the Tony for best actress, my mom moved quickly and got two tickets right on my birthday.
Last week was my birthday, so here’s the scoop! I enjoyed it! It’s basically a juke box musical about Carole King’s early life/career. I am a big Carole King fan, so I can listen to her music all day long. I will say, however, that the show was a little long, and dragged during the first act. They performed every song in it’s entirety and sometimes twice. I think that was a little much. They could have cut down the length of the songs, or done a couple of medleys to save some time and the audience’s attention span. They did some huge hits, but they also picked some B records. I think the lesser songs were meant to help with the plot, but I had less patience sitting through those performances.
This show is a similar concept to Jersey Boys since it’s about the life of singer/songwriter, and the songs are worked into the show relatively organically as actual performances. Jersey Boys, however, had a much more compelling plot to fall back on, where as Beautiful was basically about Carole King marrying her writing partner, having about ten difficult years of marriage, then getting divorced and moving to California. I think the large number of songs in the show took time away from developing the plot further.
All that being said, there are four main characters in the show who are all fantastic. They play Carole, Gerry Goffin (her writing partner/first husband), Cynthia Weil, and Barry Mann (another set of writing partners who are friends and competitors with Goffin and King). There were a lot of funny jokes between the four of them.
I thought Jessie Mueller was great, but I also thought Jarrod Spector, the Barry Mann role, was especially funny and has a really good voice. And guess what. I looked up his bio, and he set the record for doing the most performances as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys on Broadway. I am nothing if not consistent!
I think it’s definitely worth the trip if you’re a Carole King or 1960’s music enthusiast. If you’re not a Carole King or 1960’s music enthusiast, you might want to re-evaluate your life choices up to this point.