Extraordinarily Beautiful

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Chilina Kennedy portrays Carole King in Beautiful. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Chilina Kennedy portrays Carole King in Beautiful. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

After embarking on a captivating journey down memory lane, theatergoers exit Beautiful: The Carole King Musical craving another hour—or two—of the nostalgic tunes in this delightful musical. The composer’s creations come to life as the enthralling story of her rise to stardom unfolds.

Chilina Kennedy embodies King as she evolves from timid teenager to independent woman, mother and artist. The show opens as the passionate 16-year-old Brooklynite, née Carol Klein, begins her professional writing career, which has culminated in more than 400 compositions recorded by some 1,000 artists, garnering 100 hit singles.

For viewers raised on the 1971 blockbuster Tapestry, which has sold 25 million copies, learning the prodigy’s back story is fascinating as is hearing the spellbinding songs that she penned for a plethora of popular rock ’n’ roll groups in the late ’50s and early ’60s, such as “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” for the Shirelles and “Up on the Roof” for The Drifters.

This making-of-American-pop musical features a dazzling array of beloved ballads written by King and then-husband Gerry Goffin, played by Scott J. Campbell, including “One Fine Day,” “I’m Into Something Good” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”

The original cast of Beautiful offers a behind-the-scene look at the recording industry. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
The original cast of Beautiful offers a behind-the-scene look at the recording industry. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

The story revolves around the composing team’s friendly rivalry with the successful songwriting duo of Barry Mann, portrayed by Ben Jacoby, and Cynthia Weil, played by Jessica Keenan Wynn, creators of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” “Don’t Know Much” and “We’ve Gotta Get Outta This Place,” as the two couples compose in cubicles and peddle their pieces to publisher Don Kirshner, portrayed by Paul Anthony Stewart.

With a book by Douglas McGrath, direction by Marc Bruni and choreography by Josh Prince, the sets, staging and uplifting reenactments by the stars for whom these lyrics were written spotlight some of the greatest hits of the decades.

Now in its third smash year, Beautiful opened on Broadway in January 2014 at the renovated Stephen Sondheim Theatre at 124 West 43rd St., one of only two subterranean houses on Broadway and the first LEED-certified Broadway theater. In addition to raising the bar for environmentally sustainable design in performing arts venues, the modern eco-friendly fixtures miraculously reduce the wait time in the ladies’ room during intermission, so guests can quickly return to their seats to be swept away.

For tickets, visit the Sondheim Theatre or www.telecharge.com, or call 212-239-6200.

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