Entertainment » Music

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Thursday Apr 24, 2014
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Ghostlight Records has just released the soundtrack to the current Broadway musical, "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical." While the concept may be an enticement for fans of the famed pop star, this CD may be a disappointment for those unfamiliar with the show.

The recording does contains memorable hits from the masterful songstress, including six from her multi-platinum solo debut, "Tapestry," but the show focuses primarily on her pre-solo career, when her hits were co-written with her ex-husband, Gerry Goffin, and the pair was competing with the equally talented team / couple of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann to place songs with artists from their cubicle within Manhattan’s famous Brill building in the 1960’s.

Those who anticipated listening to an evening’s worth of Jessie Mueller delivering a string of King’s hits post-"Tapestry" forward will be left wanting. The show contains a slew of hits from Goffin and King, set on top of a book by Douglas McGrath that works to connect the songs to the story of King’s arrival in NYC, her relentless pursuit of work as a songwriter, her tumultuous relationship with Goffin, and her ultimate success as a solo performer, who reluctantly is able to not only write the hits, but also sing them in a style all her town.

Mueller has clearly worked hard to imitate the raspy, inconsistent, but always sincere and passionate sound that is King’s, and succeeds best on "It’s Too Late" and "You’ve Got A Friend" while other hits such as "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," and "It Might As Well Be September" come across as mere cabaret versions.

The other three principals, Jake Epstein (Gerry Goffin), Anika Larsen (Cynthia Weil) and Jarrod Spector (Barry Mann) have a lower bar to achieve, as none were known as performers of their hits, making accuracy of sound a non-issue. This is especially helpful when Spector struggles to screech out "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place," and Larsen recreates Weil’s send up of "Happy Days Are Here Again."

An ensemble rotates as the artists who reap the benefits from the writings of the quartet: The Drifters, the Shirelles, Little Eva, and the Righteous Brothers, giving "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" less of a biography feel and more of a "non-Motown hits of the ’60s" appearance, but that may still appease fans to keep the show going on Broadway, and subsequently, to pick up this release.

"Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (OBCR)"
Carole King
CD and digital formats
Ghostlight Records

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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