It’s been a week since I went to go see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and I had a really hard time sitting down to write about it. (Hence why it took my a whole week.) I did post on Facebook, (on my personal account, so I’m not linking to it.) “If you’ve had a feeling that Carole King hasn’t written a song about, congratulations, you invented a new feeling.” So that was one way to go. The other thought that I had was, “Carole King’s Tapestry will never become outdated because white girls turn 15 every year, and Tapestry is always going to speak to 15 year old white girls.” The other thing that I couldn’t get out of my head was that Jake Epstein played Gerry Goffen, King’s first husband. Epstein played Craig Manning on Degrassi and I spent two years of my life (16-18) wanting to marry him. The show also used a lot of music written by Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, who are nowhere near as credited as “important” as King and Goffen but wrote “On Broadway” and “That Loving Feeling” among others. (I maintain to this day that if a man came up to me in a bar and sang “That Loving Feeling” a la Top Gun, I would shout “YOU ARE MY BOYFRIEND NOW!) I love that this show, about songs, and songwriters and music and how important those things are is up at The Stephen Sondheim Theatre.
So obviously, I had a lot to say about it and a lot of thoughts to organize, but none of them seemed to add up to a full post. Carole King’s music and her remarkable life story are incredible fodder for a musical. Things felt like they were missing, James Taylor, for instance is never even mentioned, despite the show’s opening and finale being King’s Carnegie Hall performance, which included their first ever duet performance of “You’ve Got A Friend” and then a 13 minute medley of the songs she wrote with Goffen. But his name didn’t even come up and it was confusing to me.
I also started thinking about the show itself resembled Funny Girl, and how King’s life resembled Fanny Brice’s (this, by the way is why I should never wait a whole week to write about something that moved me. I think about it way too much and start drawing lines that just weren’t there.) I also wept through the whole second act, but I feel like that’s a given at this point. If I’m at a Broadway show, I’m gonna cry. The end. I also then listened to nothing but Carole King for about 24 hours. And I’m still every day just about listening to the Beautiful version of “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” (Did you know that King and Goffen wrote that? I didn’t!)
But here we are, a week later, and the show is still with me, the songs have always been with me and I’m definitely over wanting to marry Jake Epstein. Although he’s been added to the “Wouldn’t he be a good Dick Grayson list?” That’s weird that if I see an actor I immediately assess that right? “How would this man fair as Nightwing?” Never Robin, always Nightwing…This is a weird line of thought. I’m going to abandon it. But I did want to throw it out there.
Anyway, back to Beautiful, it’s given me a lot of thoughts and a lot of feelings, and that’s where I am right now. The show was wonderful, you should go see it if you have the opportunity. And Jessie Mueller who played King, is exceptional. She basically becomes Carole King in front of you. She sounds, moves and looks like her. I never once thought that I’d be rooting against Idina Menzel and Sutton Foster at Tony time, but it looks like it’s happening. (I also still have to see Violet and If/Then.)
Also, I wouldn’t say no to marrying Jake Epstein. Like at all. He is a handsome talented man.