Sabtu, 20 September 2014


I love the theatre! I love musicals! and I love my mom! It's a great combination for a Beautiful day. And Beautiful it was seeing the show Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. My mom had always been a loyal fan of the talented Carole King and her music. I remember as a little girl hearing the songs on the Grammy award-winning album,Tapestry, playing over and over in our house in Queens, as my mom sang and danced while cleaning and cooking. So, when I heard that this show was coming to Broadway, I couldn't think of a better way to spend a day with my mom.
Our day started off with some clouds as we drove into Manhattan for a Thursday matinee. NYC and rain are not a good combination, but as we approached the Triboro Bridge (I just can't get used to calling it the RFK Bridge), we saw the clouds starting to open up, with the hope of a sunny day ahead. And sure enough, by the time we had made it cross town to the west side into the theatre district, the sun was, in fact out and shining! We parked around the corner from the Stephen Sondheim theatre, on 44th street, which situated us perfectly for the show and our dinner destination after the show. Strolling leisurely, we made it to the theatre in plenty of time and took some fun photos out in front before heading in.

I usually always opt for orchestra seats, but since I purchased our tickets so close to the performance date, there wasn't a great selection of good seats in the orchestra section, so instead, I opted for front mezzanine. This turned out to be the perfect location to view this show! We were dead center in the second row, which gave us a wonderful birds-eye view of the action, high and low on the stage in this performance. As we settled in, waiting for the show to begin, I managed to steal a photo of the stage. I know you are not supposed to take pictures, but I justified this one since the show hadn't begun and I just couldn't resist that impressive Grand Piano looking so regal, center stage, draped in the deep blue lighting. (I did get yelled at, but I already had this great shot in my possession!).

Then the lights went down and out walked this adorable, curly-haired Carole King look alike (Jessie Mueller) in a vibrant blue flowered dress. At once, she sat at the piano, and talking to the audience, she appeared just as anyone would expect Ms. King herself to look sitting in front of a keyboard - completely at home. And her comfort level was no acting job, for in a matter of minutes, Ms. Mueller was playing that piano and singing with the ease and familiarity of someone who might have written the song. With the first notes and words sung to So Far Away, I was transformed back to my living room, listening to my mom's Carole King album - the voice, the inflections; were quite distinctly the singer whose story we came to see. We weren't hearing a Broadway show voice, but instead, the soft, soulful, mellow singing of Carole King.

The show weaved a lovely and touching narrative about this singer-songwriter's life from her teens growing up in Brooklyn, New York through her remarkable career and success as a Grammy award-winning artist. The story is filled with heart as it reveals an intimate look at Carole King's personal and professional life, her relationship with her songwriting partner and husband, Gerry Goffin, the high and low points and her personal struggles. The audience also becomes intimately familiar with the careers of two other remarkable song-writing talents of this era, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, whose music is all too familiar to those of us who were around in the '60's and '70's.

My mom was loving it!! She was filling me in with tidbits here and there about Carole King that she had acquired through the years, following her in interviews and television concerts, and feeling almost like a soul-sister to her, being contemporaries from the same generation.

Beautiful made us laugh, sing, bop and cry throughout, and left us feeling so alive as we left the theatre. So much so, that we walked right out of the theatre forgetting to make the all-important purchases we had talked about while chatting during intermission. We immediately marched right back inside the Sondheim theatre, where we each purchased both a cd soundtrack and a Beautiful t-shirt. Our day was not complete as we walked over to 44th street for dinner, recounting the amazing show we had just experienced. We both agreed that Jessie Mueller absolutely deserved a Tony for her performance, which not only included singing, dancing and acting (the usual and customary "triple threat" in show business) but, for her added talent of playing piano throughout this musical. I must say, I walked away awe struck. Jarrod Spector, who played Barry Mann, was spectacularly multi-talented, singing and playing both the keyboards and the guitar with great ease.

Now, ironically, the Tony Awards took place three days following our seeing the show. The only thing better thanBeautiful itself was seeing Jessie Mueller once again perform on television at the awards show, alongside the real Carole King! My mom and I watched while on the telephone together and felt like we were reliving the show! The only thing that could have possibly topped this was when Ms. Mueller WON the Tony. That was a BEAUTIFUL moment!!

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