Beautiful: The Carole King Musical – John W. Engeman Theater – Theatre Review
Everybody knows that good music enhances a good story—right? If you want to be inspired by a true, heartfelt story of following your dreams, all while bouncing in your seat, look no further!The John W. Engeman theater kicked off its 15th season with the opening of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on September 14 and every facet of the show was just that—beautiful. The book was written by Douglas McGrath, and words and music by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, making this fantastic show a jukebox musical.
Many know that Carole King was a famous musical artist, but most don’t know she was a songwriter and composer first—getting her start in the business in the late 1950s when she wasjust 16! The story follows her career as she quickly rises in the music industry, co-writing someof the most well-known hits in recent history—which were performed by legendary pop-groups of the 60s and beyond. With an impeccable cast, strong voices that blended together in perfect harmony, and costumes and choreography that made you feel like you were back in the golden-era of music, the entire show keeps you captivated from start to finish.
The show’s leading lady, Carole King, is played by Stephanie Lynne Mason, and she positively shines. Her heart is fully in the role, and the entire audience can see it! When she meets love interest and future husband Gerry Goffin, played by Jack Cahill-Lemme, their chemistry is tangible, and has you rooting for their relationship. Gerry is charming and all smiles, making the audience adore him instantly. Their vocal ranges were impressive both together and apart.Their romance continues to grow, and also becomes a partnership of composer and lyricist. They begin writing and selling hits together, such as “Some Kind of Wonderful.”
Getting to watch the different groups perform the songs they wrote together was one of the many highlights of the show. The ensemble and the musical groups—like the Drifters and the Shirelles—knocked it out of the park with their vocal ranges, harmonies, fun dance moves, and personalities. The audience clearly loved every number they performed!
As they continue to rise in the music industry, Carole and Gerry meet sarcastic and hilarious lyricist Cynthia Weil, played by Sarah Ellis, who quickly pairs up with composer Barry Mann, played by Noah Berry. Their partnership also turns romance as they attempt to compete in the song-writing game to get a number one hit, and are constantly trying to make it to music publisher Don Kirshner, played by Devon Goffman, to get first dibs. The couples’ jokes and quick wit constantly had the audience laughing and, might I add, their voices together were absolutely lovely.
As their songwriting careers flourish, Carole and Gerry’s relationship starts to split at the seams. Fame, unfortunately, can often come with a price, and the audience watches as the mirage of marital bliss is shattered at the end of Act I.
If you want to know how the rest of the story goes, you’ll just have to go see it yourself! Make time to go see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which runs at the John W. Engeman until October 29. You can buy your tickets here!
Run time is approximately 2.5 hours including one fifteen-minute intermission.