Beautiful: The Carol King Musical

By Sarah Petrea Schultz

At first glance, the Carol King jukebox musical is an upbeat romp through iconic tunes. The show certainly delivers on this front- as well as diving into deeper and more nuanced subject matter.

The warm colors of the set draw audience members into a different era, where they meet young Carol. The viewers follow this music legend on her journey to Carnegie Hall, getting to know her family and friends along the way. Douglas McGrath’s book does an excellent job of exploring the complexities of these relationships. The story follows colleagues who become lifelong friends; continuously infuriating, inspiring, and supporting each other. Carol King (played by Sarah Bockel) and Gerry Goffin (played by Dylan S. Wallach) navigate the relationship in which personal and professional are most closely intertwined. The incredibly high stakes for Carol and Gerry as a team provide much of the show’s tension. Audiences are wrenched along for the characters’ highs and lows.

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Sarah Bockel and Dylan S. Wallach, photo by Joan Marcus

 

Monday night’s audience seemed most moved by Beautiful’s depiction of Carol’s relationship with her mother, Genie Klein (played by Suzanne Grodner). The script juxtaposes Carol and Genie’s experiences; tracing their journeys and highlighting the bittersweet places where they mirror each other. About halfway through act two, Carol is at a low point. Genie finds her at the piano in the middle of the night and bolsters her like no one else could. The moment roused a lone cheer from the balcony, followed by heartfelt applause.

Earnest, fun, and provocative– Beautiful: The Carol King Musical is a wonderfully balanced piece of theater.

 

Presented by the Hennepin Theatre Trust. Playing now through October 27 at the Orpheum Theater. Tickets available at hennepintheatretrust.org or 800-982-2787.

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