“Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” is coming to Chrysler Hall in Norfolk for the first time as part of the Broadway in Norfolk series. “Beautiful” will run from March 13 – 18.
“Beautiful” is the story of the young Carol Joan Klein, born with the gift of perfect pitch in Brooklyn, New York. She grew up right at the beginning of Rock and Roll in the 50’s. By the time she was in high school, she had changed her name to Carole King and was composing pop songs.
Fast forward to1971. I played Carole King’s solo breakout album, Tapestry, about a million times. My roommate and I listened over and over again while we were studying or trying to help angst-ridden freshmen in our corner RA (Resident Assistant) room on the third floor of Trowbridge Hall in snowy Kalamazoo.
That’s about the time I found out that Carole King wasn’t just a singer. She had composed all of the songs on Tapestry and some of my favorite songs from my younger teens, when I was sitting in my bedroom, studying, but helping no one.
King started composing at the piano, sometimes collaborating with her friend Paul Simon (yes, that Paul Simon). Her favorite lyricist, Gerry Goffin, became her husband when she found out she was pregnant at 17. King and Goffin wrote hit after hit. “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” sung by the Shirelles, “Take Good Care of My Baby,” sung by Bobby Vee, “One Fine Day,” sung by the Chiffons and “Up on the Roof,” sung by the Drifters, are just a few they composed together. They made their babysitter, Eva Boyd, a star. Little Eva had a hit and created a new dance craze with the King/Coffin song, “The Loco-Motion.”
Carole King, played in this production by Sarah Bockel, and Gerry Goffin, played by Andrew Brewer, had almost instant success as a songwriting team, but their marriage struggled. “Beautiful” tells the story of those early years in their careers and their marriage.
Andrew Brewer started out in the Broadway production of “Beautiful” as a swing, the actor that can step in for almost any roll in the musical. He has spent “the last four and a half years of my life immersed in Beautiful.” He still loves every minute on stage. Gerry Goffin was a genius of pop lyrics. Andrew says, “He knew how to put his feelings into words that everyone understood.” Andrew believes that Goffin “experienced emotions stronger than most people.”
Goffin and King married young, had an instant family and almost instant success. Goffin wanted to be on the cutting edge of the music industry, but he felt “held back” by a wife and two young children. “Beautiful” gives a small “behind the scenes look” at how two enormously talented people created so many hits, while trying to raise two children in the suburbs.
Gerry Goffin wanted to be part of the “peace, love, and rock and roll” age. Carole King needed to take care of her children and wanted to write music. As Andrew says, “Out of the ashes of the divorce, Carole King discovered what she could really do on her own.”
She went on to release Tapestry in 1971, one of the best selling albums of all times and #36 on Rolling Stones list of 500 greatest albums.
The songs in “Beautiful” are classics. The story, feelings and emotions are universal. If you are my age, these are the songs that will immediately take you back to a certain time, a certain space, and certain people. You will be transported to the years just before you were forced to grow up and join the “real” world.
If these songs are way before your time, you will know them, too. Everyone will have a great time at “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical.”
For more information and to purchase tickets, go here.