SARAH BOCKEL COMMANDS THE STAGE AS CAROLE KING, THIS MUSICAL DELIVERS THE HITS AND MORE
The Carole King jukebox hit BEAUTIFUL has returned to San Francisco for the spring featuring a bravo cast and sharp production. Sarah Bockel makes for a convincing and stunning "King" of music. “BEAUTIFUL the Carole King musical” is now on stage at SHN’s Golden Gate stage only through June 9th. SHN is especially excited to bring back this show that started at the Curran stage here in San Francisco for its world premiere in 2013. This is the third homecoming of Beautiful—The Carole King Musical gives us all an opportunity to see how the production has developed. Carole King might be a native New Yorker, but her story of struggle and triumph is universal and her music is loved all over the world.
BEAUTIFUL: is a well crafted biographical Jukebox musical based on the life and up and down times of Carole King. The singer/songwriter/composer whose 1971 album “Tapestry” broke records as the most purchased album of all time until The King of Pop dethroned her with “Thriller” in 1983. The plot for BEAUTIFUL follows King’s career from the start at age 16 to her triumphant Carnegie Hall appearance in 1971 at the age of 29. As the handsome production hops from one memorable hit to the next, we follow the lives of Carole King and her songwriting partner, Gerry Goffin, played by the very talented Dylan Wallach, through their productive career and soap opera marriage.
In the 1960’s, the duo shared an office next door to another prolific songwriting team: Cynthia Weil (Alison Whitehurt) and Barry Mann (Jacob Heimer and James Lambert share the role). The duo does their best to steal the fame from them. Weil and Mann creating “On Broadway” and the showstopper “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”. Then King and Goffin come up with “Up on the Roof”’; the competition only helps create some of the best songs of that era. The Shirelles, the first time an all-girl group went to number one on Billboard. But dealing with career competition in their writing, does not stop the four becoming close friends. Heimer shows off his impressive voice in the classic “Who Put The Bomp” and Aashely Morgan is blessed with a powerhouse voice for her solo in “Pleasant Valley Sunday”
Directed by Marc Bruni, he stages the jukebox musical in a way that can rewind us back to a moment when a classic song was heard for the first time. Millennials can only hope their parents had these wonderful songs playing as they grew up. When it comes to Carole King, there is an iconic hit song list. I can’t quite imagine a time that doesn’t include “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” or “I Feel the Earth Move” or “You’ve Got a Friend”.
Sarah Bockel commands the stage from the moment the lights come up and we are at her 1971 Carnegie Hall solo performance. The story then takes us back to the 60’s and we meet her mom played by the wise cracking, Suzanne Grodner. BEAUTIFUL has a keen way of bringing back those moments when a song set to become a hit is first created from a composer’s piano to a singer's talents. It is a beautiful looking production, stripped down a bit from the pre-broadway show but with more of a story than in 2014.
The story chronicles King’s turbulent rise to pop superstardom with musical numbers featuring such groups as the Drifters and the Shirelles. BEAUTIFUL stays in the 1960s for the first act and some of the second, featuring the backbone to the 1971 album, “Tapestry.” King’s stressful yet talented first husband and musical collaborator.
The couples break up is a huge part the theme in “It’s Too Late." Their dark love forms the subtext of “Beautiful.” Wallach shows off his excellent tenor in “Up on The Roof” and his passion is appealing. Set designer, Derek McLane, keeps the 60’s studio setting moving with many levels and unforgettable backdrops for the Drifters and Shirelles. Costume designer, Alejo Vietti’s, cleverly brings a bright look to her cast with some amazing quick changes that happen right on stage. Lighting designer, Peter Kaczorowski, uses banks of back lights and wonderful blues for Carol’s concert performance.
Writer, Douglas McGrath, does an excellent job making the show’s lead characters likeable and not just King and Goffin but their friends Cynthia and Barry, and the icon, Don Kirshner, played by the dapper James Clow. Talented, John Michael Dias, plays a number of roles but his best is as the pop singer, Neil Sedaka, as he opens a montage of King’s songs with “Oh Carole”. Bockel is a tour de force and it is her performance that makes this a must see spring musical. Her voice is pitch perfect to King’s sound and she is terrific when she performs “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” she truly is Carole King.
The cast gets skilled musical backing from music director Susan Draus’ and Josh Prince 50’s choreography is true eye candy. So many of the classic songs will make your feet move and of course the earth move. The sold out opening night crowd could not wait to stand and applaud this musical that will to keep you singing on your ride home. Next up for SHN Golden Gate stage is the 20th Anniversary of RENT that opens June 14th. HAMILTON has extended its run through January 2020, at the Orpheum and it is now easy to score 50.00 seats. But in the meantime join the cast of BEAUTIFUL for an American Legends iconic songs. You can score 40.00 Rush Orch seats day of show, beginning at 9 am at TodayTix.com, or buy at the box office night of show.
THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL
Music and Lyrics: Carol King & Gerry Goffin
Barry Man & Cynthia Weil
Book: Doug McGrath,
Director Marc Bruni, Musical director Susan Draus
Choreographer: Josh Prince
Orchestrations and music arrangements:
Steve Sidwell Music supervisor
SHN GOLDEN GATE THEATRE
1 Taylor Street at 6th Street
Only Through June 9th
Running Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Tickets at https://www.shnsf.com/Online/default.asp
Photo Credit: JOAN MARCUS
VMEDIA ARTS Visits opening night BEAUTIFUL