I recently saw the play “Beautiful” about Carole King and her music. If you haven’t seen it yet, I think it’s worth going out of your way to take it in. The show traces Carole’s rise from being a 16 year old girl selling her first song to Don Kirschner, through her making the fantastic “Tapestry” album. In between, she adopts her stage name of King (her real last name is Klein), marries her collaborator Gerry Goffin, co-writes a huge number of hits, divorces Goffin, moves to LA, and then finally steps onto the stage herself to sing her own compositions for “Tapestry.”
King is an unbelievably successful songwriter. She wrote or co-wrote over 110 songs that charted on the Billboard Hot 100. Damn, girl! Unless you walled yourself off during the last 50 years, you have heard many of King’s songs. But they were often performed by others, so you might not recognize them as being her songs. They were performed by, among others, The Chiffons, James Taylor, Little Eva, Aretha Franklin, Herman’s Hermits, The Monkees, and the Drifters. Regardless, she is prolific and remarkably successful.
The show clearly features a ton of great songs. But it also has a story that moves briskly along, and uses the rivalry of the King/Goffin team against another songwriting team (Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil) to refine the narrative. It works well. But again, the best part of the play is that it is just chock full of tunes you want to sing out loud.
Yes, rock and roll Broadway reviews have been explored many times: Think “Mamma Mia,” “Jersey Boys,” “We Will Rock You,” and on and on. But the sheer breadth of the musical hits here and the different acts that made them famous makes “Beautiful” a bit different and at the top of the heap of the genre. Trust me on this, you’ll enjoy it if you like pop music.
This being a professional play, there is a ban on photos – I took this one before the play began, but the dude in front of me took a video during the show and was visited by ushers during the intermission. They made him delete the video, too! So be careful out there, my friends.
Here are a couple of links to some of my favorite “King plays King” songs, and two more that I thought were just brilliant renditions of her work. I hope you enjoy.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.