Seeing a Broadway show was never on my bucket list, but it was a part of my beautiful wife Catherine’s list! So while in the Big Apple we had to do it and we chose ‘Beautiful – The Carole King Musical’. It was at the rather amazing Stephen Sondheim Theatre on 43rd Street, a theatre that is mostly underground!
The show tells the story of the rise of the former Carol Klein from a starry-eyed and understated yet ambitious 16-year-old into the incredibly talented superstar singer songwriter Carole King. The show deals with the ups, downs and heartache of her relationship with her early songwriting partner and husband Gerry Goffin. Back in those early days she composed the music while Goffin provided the lyrics. There are some wonderful scenes where the pair have their songs recorded by the Drifters (“Some Kind Of Wonderful”) and the Shirelles (“Will You Love Me Tomorrow”). The affection of Carole’s friendship with fellow songwriters Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann is depicted in a beautifully heartwarming and humourous way. The guy who played Don/ Donnie Kirshner; Paul Anthony Stewart is a very classy actor, although no singer, well not that he was required to sing of course. So maybe he can hold a tune. Evan Todd brought home a brilliant emotional performance as an often troubled Gerry Goffin.
I should also give a very special mention to Mike Longo who covered three parts; Neil Sedaka, Lou Adler and Bill Medley. The latter off of the Righteous Brothers. There were many highlights for me; Little Eva (one time babysitter for King and Goffin who became an overnight sensation with the pairs “The Locomotion”. Eva was played by Gabrielle Elisabeth. Ben Jacoby’s performance overall, but particularly “Who Put The Bomp” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” he really nailed Barry Mann’s initial disdain for the future Righteous Brothers smash. But the best part of the show for me was Sara Sheperd’s performance. She totally stole the show as Carole King. The finale of “It’s Too Late”, “You’ve Got A Friend” and “Beautiful” was truly awesome and regular readers know that I really do use that word sparingly. Not only that but Sara is an understudy to the usual lead Jessie Mueller. Sara is also Dance Captain, although I must confess that I have no idea what that is. But Sara Sheperd is most definitely immensely gifted and talented. I totally loved this show and coming from someone who is really not a fan of musicals that is high praise indeed, believe me! If you do get a chance to see this show, especially in New York City then do not miss it!