“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” takes us breezily through the life and tribulations of Carole King—never are you truly worried for Carole, or do you get pulled too deeply into the drama of her life, but perhaps it’s just because our protagonist does for the most part live a very charmed, fun life.
And as she tells us at the beginning of the show, she wants to make every moment beautiful. The show is fast and bouncy, showing vignettes of her life in the studio and her life as a young wife and mother with her husband, Gerry Goffin—who is also her writing partner. We’re shown from the start that Gerry is a good looking playboy with a passion for writing, but always somehow out of reach for our heroine. After all, they got married as teenagers and only because she accidentally got pregnant—so it doesn’t come off as a real surprise whenever the two have problems in their relationship, which is the only real danger of the show. But as light as it is, the musical is undeniably fun and funny, charming the surprisingly full house. It was a joy to see each idea for the songs that we know so well blossom into full blown musical productions, sometimes turning the theater into a concert house.
Chilina Kennedy, taking over the role of Carole King from Jessie Mueller and her Tony Award-winning run, does an amazing job of bringing her to life—all at once playing vibrant, youthful, excited, nervous, and shy. The staging of the show is delightful, able to nimbly jump back and forth between the recording studio and sold out concert hall. The ensemble is powerful and energetic, a lot of the show’s fun is due to the ease of watching them perform.
“Beautiful” isn’t a groundbreaking musical but it also doesn’t pretend to be. Its mission is to give its audience a delightful and enjoyable night out—and with easy laughs and familiar music, it delivers exactly that.