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Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
2014 Broadway Playbill
Book Douglas McGrath
Basis The life of Carole King
Premiere 8 October 2013 (2013-10-08) – Curran Theatre, San Francisco
Productions 2013 San Francisco
2014 Broadway
2015 West End
2015 U.S. Tour

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is a jukebox musical with a book by Douglas McGrath that tells the story of the early life and career of Carole King, using songs that she wrote, often together with Gerry Goffin, and other contemporary songs by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Phil Spector and others.

The original production of Beautiful received its world premiere at the Curran Theatre, San Francisco in October 2013, with direction by Marc Bruni and choreography by Josh Prince, and starring Jessie Mueller and Jake Epstein as Carole King and Gerry Goffin, respectively. It made its Broadway debut at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in January 2014. A West End production starring Katie Brayben as Carole began in February 2015. There is a U.S. Tour planned for later in 2015.


Beautiful: The Carole King Musical had a pre-Broadway try-out in San Francisco, California at the Curran Theatre from September 24, 2013 through October 20, with an official opening October 8. The production was staged by Marc Bruni, with choreography by Josh Prince and musical direction by Jason Howland. Jessie Mueller played Carole King.[1] The musical sold out its entire run at the Curran Theatre.[2]

The musical opened on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on January 12, 2014, after previews from November 12, 2013. In addition to Mueller as King, the cast features Jake Epstein as Gerry Goffin, Anika Larsen as Cynthia Weil and Jarrod Spector as Barry Mann.[3] King attended the April 3, 2014 performance and appeared on stage with the cast at the curtain call, singing "You've Got a Friend" together with them.[4] A US tour is planned for 2015, beginning at the Providence Performing Arts Center in September.[5]

The musical transferred to London's West End on February 25, 2015, following previews from February 10, 2015 at the Aldwych Theatre.[6] Prior to the announcement, Baz Bamigboye from the Daily Mail reported that producers are looking for a full British cast for the transfer, meaning that Jessie Mueller would not transfer for the London production. On September 25, 2014, it was announced that British actress Katie Brayben would take the lead role of Carole King,[7] with further casting including Alan Morrissey as Gerry Goffin, Gary Trainor as Don Kirshner, Glynis Barber as Genie Klein, Lorna Want as Cynthia Weil and Ian McIntosh as Barry Mann.[8]

The musical is expected to begin a U.S. tour starting in September 2015 in Providence, Rhode Island at the Providence Performing Arts Center.[9]


From the Beautiful: The Carole King Musical soundtrack booklet

Act I

At Carnegie Hall in 1971, Carole King sings "So Far Away". Then, in Brooklyn 16 year-old Carole tells her mother, Genie, she is going into Manhattan to try and sell a song to Donnie Kirshner. In the long tradition of mothers, Genie is opposed to her daughter's wish and in the equally long tradition of teenagers not caring about their mother's opinion, Carole goes anyway. At 1650 Broadway, she hears the "1650 Broadway Medley". She then sings her new song "It Might As Well Rain Until September". Donnie says he will take it and hopes she has others. At Queen's College, Carole meets a handsome young lyricist named Gerry Goffin. They agree to collaborate, musically and romantically, which in both cases turn out to be a fertile arrangement. When they go to Donnie's to play their new song, Carole confesses to Gerry that she is pregnant. Gerry asks her to marry him. It gives her an extra depth of feeling when she sings their new song for Donnie, "Some Kind of Wonderful", which the Drifters then record.

They get an office at 1650. While there, Carole meets a new lyricist Cynthia Weil ("Happy Days Are Here Again") who is looking for a composer to work with. Gerry and Carole sing their new song "Take Good Care of My Baby", during which Barry Mann, the composer with the office next door, enters. Barry meets Cynthia and they decide to collaborate. As they begin to work, sparks fly. Donnie tells them he needs a song for the Shirelles. The couples compete for the job. In Donnie's office the next morning, Carole and Gerry present "Will You Love Me Tomorrow". Cynthia and Barry perform "He's Sure the Boy I Love". Donnie picks Carole and Gerry's song for the Shirelles and it goes to Number One ("Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" (Reprise)). And so, on either side of the same wall, a competition is born. The two teams turn out an amazing parade of songs: "Up on the Roof", "On Broadway", "The Locomotion", and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling".

Gerry and Carole are at the taping of a TV special where their new song, "One Fine Day", is being performed by the dazzling Janelle Woods. During a break, Gerry confesses to Carole that he is restless in their marriage. He wants to sleep with Janelle, and he doesn't want to lie about it. Carole is stunned. As the song begins again, she takes it over and sings it herself.

Act II

Carole is in a recording studio doing a demo of "Chains". Gerry is off with Janelle but tells her he will meet her later. Nick, a guitarist, asks Carole to come sing at the Bitter End sometime but she declines — she's a songwriter, not a singer. The thing with Gerry is getting her down so she goes and talks to Cynthia who is also having trouble with Barry — they split up. Carole decides to tell Gerry he has to end the affair with Janelle. As she leaves, Barry comes in. He and Cynthia make up and play their new song, "Walking in the Rain". Gerry shows up, but he is not making sense. He eventually has a breakdown. At the hospital, he tells Carole he will end the affair with Janelle and that he wants to come home. She suggests they make a new start and move to the suburbs ("Pleasant Valley Sunday").

Barry, Cynthia and Donnie come to see the new house. Barry plays their new song, "We Gotta Get Out of This Place". Depressed that he and Carole can't do as well, Gerry leaves in a funk for the city. While he is gone, it comes out that Barry and Cynthia have seen him with another woman, a singer named Marilyn Wald. Carole goes to Marilyn's apartment and Gerry is there. It's the final straw, and she ends their marriage. At the Bitter End, where Barry and Cynthia hear their song "Uptown", Carole explains she went to LA for a vacation and has started writing on her own. Nick, the guitarist from the studio who asked her to sing with his group is playing there and urges her to sing. She sings her new song, "It's Too Late". She decides to move to L.A. At 1650, she says goodbye to Donnie, Barry and Cynthia and plays them a parting present ("You've Got a Friend").

In L.A., she records her album, Tapestry. The session goes well until the last song which she is afraid to sing. It's a song she wrote with Gerry and she is afraid of the feelings it may stir up. Her producer, Lou Adler, persuades her. She sings "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman". The album is a smash. Carole is at Carnegie Hall for her concert. Before the show starts, Gerry knocks on her dressing room door. He has brought her a good luck present, but has something even more valuable: an apology for all the ways he hurt her. With a full heart he wishes her well. Carole comes onto the stage of Carnegie Hall alone. She sits at the piano. Then with all the joy inside her, she sings "Beautiful".


Musical numbers

All songs written by Goffin and King except as noted

† Not included on the original Broadway Cast Album.


The musical uses a twelve-member orchestra consisting of 3 keyboards, 2 guitars, bass, drums, percussion, 2 reeds, trumpet/flugelhorn, and trombone/bass trombone.[10][11] In addition the performer playing Carole King plays the piano if it is Katie Brayben (London) whereas Jessie Mueller (Broadway) needed piano lessons so she could mime.[12]


The Broadway cast album was recorded in February 2014 by Ghostlight Records and was released in digital form on April 1, 2014. It is in stores as of May 13, 2014. (The Broadway cast album includes the song "You've Got a Friend", although that song is not listed in the opening night credits.) The album was also released on a vinyl format.[13][14]

Principal roles and original casts

Character Original Broadway Cast Original West End Cast[15]
Carole King Jessie Mueller Katie Brayben
Gerry Goffin Jake Epstein Alan Morrissey
Cynthia Weil Anika Larsen Lorna Want
Barry Mann Jarrod Spector Ian McIntosh
Don Kirshner Jeb Brown Gary Trainor
Genie Klein, Carole's mother Liz Larsen Glynis Barber
Betty Rebecca LaChance Joanna Woodward
Bobby Hatfield/Neil Sedaka Kevin Duda Ed Currie
Janelle Woods Rashidra Scott Tanisha L. Spring
Little Eva Ashley Blanchet Lucy St. Louis
Lucille Carly Hughes Danielle Steers
Marilyn Wald Sara King Vivien Carter
Nick/Bill Medley Josh Davis Dylan Turner
"Uptown" Singer Alysha Deslorieux Tanya Nicole-Edwards

Broadway Cast Replacement History

  • Scott J. Campbell took over the role of Gerry Goffin from Jake Epstein on September 23, 2014.
  • Paul Anthony Stewart took over the role of Don Kirshner from Jeb Brown on September 23, 2014.[16]
  • Chilina Kennedy took over the role of Carole King from Jessie Mueller on March 7, 2015.[17]
  • Jessica Keenan Wynn took over for Anika Larsen in the role of Cynthia Weil while she is on temporary maternity leave starting on March 10, 2015.[17]

Critical reception

Ben Brantley, reviewing for The New York Times, called the musical a "friendly, formulaic bio-musical". He wrote that the musical shows the change in King from a modest songwriter to the popular and confident performer of those songs, showing the "real, conflicted person within the reluctant star."[18]

Jesse Green, in his review for the New York Magazine praised the performers but criticized the book, writing that the musical does not have the "dramatic coherence of book biomusicals".[19] Similarly, Elyse Sommer, in her review for, praised the performers, especially Mueller, Spector and Larsen, as well as the "shimmery lighting" and the costumes. She wrote that while the musical "doesn't hang its songs on the greatest or most suspenseful story ever told, it has enough bounce and Broadway show glitz to keep you in your seat".[20]

Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2014 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Book of a Musical Douglas McGrath Nominated
Best Leading Actress in a Musical Jessie Mueller Won
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Jarrod Spector Nominated
Best Featured Actress in a Musical Anika Larsen Nominated
Best Orchestrations Steve Sidwell Nominated
Best Sound Design Brian Ronan Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Book of a Musical Douglas McGrath Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Musical Jessie Mueller Won
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Anika Larsen Won
Outstanding Orchestrations Steve Sidwell Nominated
Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical Brian Ronan Won
2015 Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Jessie Mueller (principal soloist); Jason Howland, Steve Sidwell & Billy Jay Stein (producers) Won

Original London production

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2015 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Nominated
Best Actress in a Musical Katie Brayben Won
Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical Ian McIntosh Nominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical Lorna Want Won
Best Theatre Choreographer Josh Prince Nominated
Best Costume Design Alejo Vietti Nominated
Best Sound Design Brian Ronan Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Music The Orchestra Nominated

Film adaptation

On March 22, 2015, it was announced that Sony Pictures would be bringing the musical to the big screen with Douglas McGrath adapting his book into a screenplay, with stage producer Paul Blake producing through Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman's production company, Playtone.


  1. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Tickets for San Francisco Engagement of 'Beautiful: The Carole King Musical' on Sale Beginning Aug. 16",, August 16, 2013
  2. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Broadway-Bound 'Beautiful: The Carole King Musical' Sells Out San Francisco Engagement",, October 17, 2013
  3. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Starring Jessie Mueller as Music Icon, Opens on Broadway",, January 12, 2014
  4. ^ Blank, Matthew. Photo Call: Carole King Surprises Cast of Broadway Musical Beautiful With Impromptu Performance",, April 4, 2014
  5. ^ "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Will Play U.S. Tour and London". Playbill. 5 September 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Broadway’s Carole King Musical ‘Beautiful’ Expands to London". Variety. 5 September 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  7. ^ "Katie Brayben cast as Carole King in Beautiful". Whats On Stage. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "New cast members join Katie Brayben in the upcoming production". Whats On Stage. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  9. ^ "Tour", accessed May 26, 2015
  10. ^ "Beautiful The Carole King Musical Opening Night Credits". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "Inside the Playbill: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Playbill Opening Night at Stephen Sondheim Theatre". Playbill Vault. p. 4. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "Jessie Mueller to Star in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Arriving on Broadway in November". Playbill. 12 August 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  13. ^ Gioia, Michael and Hetrick, Adam.Ghostlight Records Will Record Broadway's Beautiful: The Carole King Musical", February 13, 2014
  14. ^ Hetrick, Adam."Cast Album of 'Beautiful: The Carole King Musical' Hits Stores May 13", May 13, 2014
  15. ^ "Complete Casting Announced for West End's Beautiful: The Carole King Musical". Playbill. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  16. ^ Staff. "Scott J. Campbell & Paul Anthony Stewart Join Cast of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway". Retrieved September 23, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b Andrew Gans. "Chilina Kennedy to Succeed Jessie Mueller in Broadway's Beautiful; Jessica Keenan Wynn Will Also Join Cast". Playbill, inc. Retrieved March 2, 2015. 
  18. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review. 'Beautiful: The Carole King Musical' at Sondheim Theater", The New York Times, January 13, 2014
  19. ^ Green, Jesse. "Theater Review: A Natural Woman and Not Much Else in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical",, January 13, 2014
  20. ^ Sommer, Elyse. "A CurtainUp Review. Beautiful – The Carole King Musical",, January 8, 2014

External links