Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
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The sixteen-year-old Brooklyn kid Carole King (Jessie Mueller) plays a song she’s written for the record exec Don Kirshner (Jeb Brown), and he buys it; she teams up with the handsome lyricist Gerry Goffin (Jake Epstein), and they fall in love; the Shirelles record their song “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?,” and it goes to No. 1. Then the real drama begins. Doug McGrath’s affectionate musical biography, directed by Marc Bruni, is full of terrific songs (including “One Fine Day,” “The Locomotion,” and “On Broadway”) performed by knockout singers. It’s the story not just of King and Goffin but of their friends and rivals Barry Mann (Jarrod Spector) and Cynthia Weil (Anika Larsen), the broader world of the early-sixties rock-and-roll hit factories, and the forces that gave rise to King’s evolution as a solo artist. Mueller’s performance is astonishing in its humility, warmth, and beauty; by the time she performs “Tapestry” at Carnegie Hall, her triumph feels like the whole room’s.