“Beautiful” is a pop music ride courtesy of Carole King

Carole King playing piano on the Beautiful Musical poster
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

The show is based on the life and music of the pop legend  

The State Theatre in New Brunswick took us on a ride through mid-century pop music with Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Based on the life of King and her relationships with husband Gerry Goffin, fellow songwriters Cynthia Weill and Barry Mann, producer Don Kirshner, and mother Genie Klein, the show, written by Douglas McGrath was a smooth and mostly-upbeat representation of the singer/songwriter’s career and private life. It spans the years from 1958 to 1971.

Kennedy Caughell as King and James D. Gish as Goffin easily navigated the emotional ups and downs of the couple, as did Kathryn Boswell as the quick-witted Weill and James Michael Lambert as the competitive Mann. Most of the humor was provided by Matt Loehr’s Kirshner and Rachel Coloff’s Genie. The cast showed musical talent from the leads to the ensemble, which did a good job impersonating the Shirelles, the Drifters, the Righteous Brothers, and Little Eva, among others.

Director Marc Bruni and choreographer Josh Prince guided the cast through the production and kept things moving at a quick pace. Derek McLane’s sets were a standout, well-lit by Peter Kaczorowski, as were the costumes of Alejo Vietti. Alan J. Plado led a small orchestra that swung the rhythms of the 26 hit tunes of the era down with just the right amount of verve.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical played November 8-10, 2019 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. For more information on the tour of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, go to broadway.org/tours/details/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical. The next production in this season’s Broadway series at the State Theatre will be The SpongeBob Musical, playing November 29th through December 1st. For more information about coming attractions at the State Theatre, including the Broadway series, go to stnj.org.

Allen Neuner
Allen Neuner is the theater reviewer at Out in Jersey magazine. Jersey born and raised, Allen went to his first Broadway play in 1957 and has been deliriously in love with live theater ever since. Allen has been accepted into the American Theatre Critics Association, a professional organization of theatre journalists. He has been partnered to music reviewer Bill Realman Stella, with whom he is also deliriously in love, for over 20 years. They live in an over-cluttered house in Somerville.