The moment the lights dimmed in the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood I was transported to my wayward youth.
I knew, somewhere in the deep recesses of memory that Carole King had written the music for many of my favorite songs, but was astonished to discover King and husband, Gerry Goffin, were responsible for so much of the music of my youth.
Granted, much of their music predates my teen years, but King’s seminal work, the album “Tapestry” spoke to me (as a sophomore in high school) as nothing before or since.
I played “Tapestry” on the family stereo (a big, bulky system encased in a beautiful oak cabinet) until I practically wore the grooves off the LP.
“Tapestry” was released in 1971 and is as beautiful now as it was then.
After seeing the national touring company of “Beautiful,” I now know why the record still speaks to me.
King and Goffin were married when she was 17 and Goffin only a few years her senior.
The couple divorced just shy of their 10-year anniversary. “Tapestry” was a personal outpouring that spoke to love, divorce, life and music. King bared her soul on “Tapestry” and millions responded to the truth of her music laid down so carefully on vinyl.
In “Beautiful,” actress Sarah Bockel captures perfectly the self-effacing, yet tenacious spirit of King.
Dylan Wallach, as Gerry Goffin, expertly portrays the angst of so many creative geniuses.
James Clow as Don Kirshner is brilliantly cast as the music producer who crafted an enduring musical genre and gave King (and Goffin) a string of hits.
King is one the most successful female songwriters of the latter half of the 20th century, having written or co-written 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1955 and 1999.
“Beautiful” is her story and is brilliantly told through music and the seamless recreated performances of groups such as the Shirelles, the Drifters, the Righteous Brothers and other music starts of the era, like Little Eva (who at one time was King’s babysitter.)
The friendly musical “competition” between King/Goffin and Cynthia Weil, played by Alison Whitehurst and Barry Mann, played by Jacob Heimer, is at the heart of “Beautiful.”
It is easy to see why such wonderful music came from Don Kirshner’s Dimension Records music “factory.”
For a captivating, uplifting, magical evening of theater there is no better production to see than “Beautiful.”
The first act alone features 17 musical numbers including “Up on the Roof” (my personal favorite), “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “The Locomotion,” “One Fine Day,” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”
“Beautiful” is on stage at the Pantages Theatre Hollywood, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 90028, through Sept. 30.
After the Los Angeles production closes, “Beautiful” will move to San Diego on Oct. 2-7 and to Costa Mesa on Oct. 9-14. For more information and tickets visit https://beautifulonbroadway.com/tour.