On only its third stop as part of a national tour, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” is once again bringing down the house. The magic continues here in D.C. through Sunday, Oct. 25. And next month, King, a true musical legend, will be saluted during the Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 6.
“Beautiful” tells the story of how Carole Klein became the cultural icon we now know as Carole King whose songs gave life to a host of singers during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
From the time she began writing songs for music mogul Don Kirshner, along with her husband and writing partner, Gerry Goffen, King penned the melodies and lyrics for a myriad of songs that would go on to define that era’s music.
Starting early with The Drifters, the songwriting duo produced hits singles like “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and “Up on the Roof,” as well as “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” for the Shirelles. The King/Goffen hit machine kept rolling under the watchful eye of Kirshner along with the close friendship of another powerhouse songwriting couple, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann.
Telling the story of the couple’s early marriage, songwriting partnership and eventual demise, “Beautiful” presents a nostalgic soundtrack that has a solid foundation in America’s musical history.
Weil and Mann contributed such hits as “On Broadway,” “He’s Sure the Boy I Love,” and the song made legendary by the Righteous Brothers, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin.’”
With stellar choreography by Josh Prince, the smooth moves of The Drifters, The Shirelles and the exuberant energy of King’s former babysitter, Little Eva, who brought “The Locomotion” onto the 60s dance scene, come roaring back to life from the pages of teen magazines of that era.
The storyline of the musical genius Carole King gained pubic attention when she won the 2013 Gershwin Prize from the Library of Congress.
As the orchestra strikes up “It’s Too Late,” one recalls the sensitive lyrics and lingering melodies that defined her second, but best-known album for which she wrote and sang her own music, “Tapestry,” released in 1971. One of the best-selling albums of all time with over 25 million copies sold worldwide, “Tapestry” achieved certified diamond status by the Recording Industry Association of America with more than 10 million copies sold and winning four Grammy Awards in 1972 including Album of the Year. In 2003, “Tapestry” garnered the #36 position on Rolling Stone’s list of the ￼500 greatest albums of all time.
Although the soundtrack of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” remains the star of the show, a talented cast makes this an enjoyable family comedy.
“Beautiful” employs the transformative nature of music to bring Baby Boomers back to the most poignant parts of their lives, while the younger generation gets a lesson or two on how we got to where we are now, musically, as a nation. The music propelled this play to Tony Award-winning status in 2014 following its opening on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theater in January of the same year.
Commemorative concerts would later be featured at both the Library of Congress and the White House.
Before moving on to its next stop on the tour, Pittsburgh, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” continues through Sunday, Oct. 25 with two matinees during the weekend. For tickets or for more information, call (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324, or visit Kennedy-Center.org.