THEATER REVIEWS

THEATER REVIEW – HONEYMOON IN VEGAS

When I started to go to the theater in my late teens, I went with one intention – to be entertained.  I wanted an escape, an outlet.  I wanted to simply spend time away from reality, not thinking a lot about life and its problems.  I wanted simplicity – and fun – and laughs.   Honeymoon In Vegas is a show that reminds me of the old times…a simple show, meant to entertain and not make the audience ponder too much.  It comes at time when we need to laugh – to enjoy our lives and to sit back and take it all in.  I cannot tell you how much I loved this show.

So –what happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas – but when it comes to New York, watch out and prepare yourself for an evening of laughter, frolic and unadulterated pure fun.  The plot closely resembles the movie screenplay.  Rob McClure, who made a name for himself as Chaplin two years ago on Broadway, plays Jack Singer, a likeable, nerdy guy.  He wants to marry his girlfriend, Betsy (played by Bryn O’Malley) but has commitment phobia.  Each time Jack gets close to marriage, he is haunted by the ghost of his deceased mother, played brilliantly by the hysterically funny Nancy Opel.   Jack finally bites the bullet and decides to take Betsy to Las Vegas to marry her there.

The ease of a Vegas wedding is complicated by Jack’s big loss in a poker game –headed by a suave wise guy named Tommy Korman (Tony Danza) who orchestrates a huge monetary loss for Jack.  The only way to repay Tommy is to have Betsy spend a weekend with him…as Tommy sees her as a replacement for his deceased wife.   Tommy, however, wants to take it further and employs a cast of characters to keep the couple apart and fulfill Tommy’s goals.

There is nothing complicated about Honeymoon in Vegas, which makes it all the better.  It is a simple musical comedy.  Rob McClure is just brilliant.  He is a physical comedian – perfect for this role.  Bryn O’Malley is wonderful as the lovelorn fiancée.  The supporting players are excellent, especially Nancy Opel as Jack’s deceased mother popping up in the oddest of places. Catherine Ricafort does a fine job as a distraction for Jack.  David Josefsberg does double duty as the lounge singer and the head Elvis impersonator.  Only my friend Gene DiNapoli might be able to give him a run for his money – but otherwise he teeters between the two characters wistfully.

Tony Danza is a joy to watch. He plays the wise guy with charm and charisma – so much so that you almost want him to steal Betsy from Jack. Just when you think that is going to happen, he changes like a chameleon and his deceitful side is exposed. He sings and dances with sincerity, warmth and joy..truly entertaining.

I so much enjoyed Jason Robert Brown’s score.  Each song advances the plot and the characters and each song is unique in its sound and its message.  It was great to see people leaving a show and humming a tune. The overture, which is so rarely heard these days in new musicals, is the perfect beginning, as it is both welcoming and entertaining.

This is a musical that needs to survive.  It needs a long run.  Audiences deserve this.  Jason Robert Brown deserves this.  The entire cast deserves this.  Run to see Honeymoon In Vegas   —- NOW!!!!!!!

NEXT WEEK – The Play Revivals – A Delicate Balance, The Elephant Man and You Can’t Take it With You!

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THEATER REVIEWS

IF/THEN – MATILDA

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Tonight’s installment of Ponder with Peter was supposed to be a review of If/Then, the Idina Menzel musical.  I saw it in previews and decided I would wait until it opened to review.  So I bought tickets for a show last week, arrived at the theater and Idina was out.  So IF there is no Idina Menzel, THEN, there is no review, because I am going on another night.   So – what is this week about?

It is not like me to get behind the eight ball on the world of musicals, but truth be told, I did not see Matilda until about a month ago. So while this is last year’s show and a little older than those I might review, my experience was recent and you have been asking for this one..so here’s to you.

I never read the book and I never saw the movie. However, I was intrigued more than just a bit to see this musical mega-hit that was imported from London.  There was so much buzz around this, even after it did not win the Tony that I wanted to experience the miracle of Matilda.

Matilda is the story of a special young lady with some type of supernatural powers that work when she gets extremely agitated.  She was born to parents who do not want her but tolerate her, so she escapes by going to the library, and narrating a never ending story filled with such vivid imagination that the librarian is enamored with her.  She is enrolled in a school where the headmistress is the most despicable of people and treats both the kids and her staff poorly. Matilda’s teacher, Miss Honey, takes an interest in her and through love, caring and concern, they help each other come to terms with their respective lives and those who complicate them.

There are some good moments and it is an overall enjoyable evening but some of the character portrayals are so over the top that it prevented me from truly loving this show.  I suppose that children who are fond of the movie or the book will love it and the parents who are over-Disneyfied might enjoy a nice diversion from lions and the plains of Africa.

 What did I love?

  • Matilda is played by three different young girls and depending on when you see it will determine which one you get.  On our night, the title role was played by Paige Brady.  This child was astonishing and brilliant.  She was so wonderful that I jumped to my feet when she came out for her bows.  It is an amazing feat for an adult to carry the burden of a show but when a child can pull it off, it takes something very special.
  • The Other Kids – So much young talent- parents beware – your kids will want a career in show business as these youngsters make it look so easy.  Each of the kids in Matilda’s class is special and each one brings life to his/her character, especially Mitchell Sink who played Bruce and Grace Capeless who played Lavender.
  • Miss Honey – Jill Paice plays the sympathetic, unconfident school teacher with such sensitivity and warmth, that you wish she was your teacher.  She has a gorgeous voice and you cannot help but love and root for her – although New Yorkers might just want to slap her and say, “Snap out of it!.”

 What did I not like?

  • The rest of the characters – Matilda’s parents, Miss Trunchbull, the brother – all done so over the top that they were not believable – to me – the adult.  I suppose that they kept true to the book and if that is the case, then it works for its target audience.  However, I would have preferred to see more down to earth characters – but then it might have painted too much realism and not enough fantasy.

I heard from friend that the play was “dark” and could be scary for kids.  Unless I have lost all sense of understanding the psyche of children, I did not believe that was true.   Matilda’s positive brilliance, the enthusiasm of the children and the transformation and depth of caring from Miss Honey brighten whatever dark spots there are.  The sadness of Matilda not being wanted by her parents is overshadowed by her desire to be loved – and truth be told –isn’t that what we all want?

SO it did not win the Tony – but take the kids and show them how bad it really could be!!! 

Next Time – MY THOUGHTS ON THE UPCOMING TONY AWARDS

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THEATER REVIEWS

THEATER REVIEW – PIPPIN

 

 

PIPPIN

Before I get to the actual show, indulge a memory or two with me about the importance Pippin has had in my life.   When Sister Joanne Pastori, our Principal, brought Sal Rendina to Sacred Heart Private School’s faculty to teach music, she opened up a world of possibilities for a lot of us. She was a visionary, a true educator, who understood that the arts were an important part of a well rounded curriculum and more importantly of a well rounded educational experience.   We always had music in elementary school..But most of it was liturgical (I still hear echoes of “Sons of God, “ Take Our Bread,” and “Immaculate Mary.”) Sister Carol Sansone introduced us to the music of the St. Louis Jesuits, but it was Sal who took it all a step beyond, perfecting the hymns with his students.

Sal was a true pioneer. He was adept at church music but he also spent time bringing Broadway to life in the classroom. His repertoire of vocal selection books included Cabaret, Fiddler on the Roof, Mame and of course, Pippin. In 1974, he led the school to its first show in about four years and not since John Viti and Hugh Walsh rolled out the barrel in lederhosen, were we that excited. Paul Mileo (RIP) opened that show with ‘Wilkommen’ from Cabaret, and we all sang ‘Magic to Do’ from Pippin, hands and all. Donna D’Ambrosio, who had the voice of a songbird, sang ‘Married’, also from Cabaret.

Lisa Lo Cascio and I were scheduled to sing ‘No Time At All,’ from Pippin. We rehearsed daily and fell in love with the song. We were good…we were VERY GOOD. But during the last rehearsal, Sister Carol really listened to the lyrics – “and watching your flings be flung all over, makes me feel young all over, in just No Time At All.” And in an instant, they were deemed too risqué, and the number was cut, forever.. and Lisa and I never got to sing it. No offense to Sister Carol, as it was only 1974. We should have stuck with ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen,’ from The Sound of Music – after all, she still thinks I am her Rolf and she will always be my Liesl.

Perhaps as a true Catholic, I was supposed to suffer that disappointment as it seemed to actually solidify my love for Pippin. I gained an admiration and love for this show from then on – so much so that when I graduated high school, my cake was inscribed with “May you find your ‘Corner of the Sky’, but I digress.

The only production of this show that I had seen was a video done in the early 1980s with Ben Vereen, William Kaat, Chita Rivera and Martha Raye. However, the original cast recording is forever etched in my mind and so when the first ever revival was announced, I was more excited than one can imagine. The only downside to this was that it took me almost a year to actually see it. I am so glad that I did. It is spectacular.

So the play…Pippin is the son of Charlemagne and the show focuses around his search for something deeper – the meaning of life. The show is narrated by the leading player and the characters in clued Pippin’s father, Charlemagne, his step mother, Fastrada, his grandmother Berthe, Catherine, the older widowed woman and his step brother Louis.   It is set in medieval times, with a Cirque de Soleil feel with acrobats and dancers moving across the stage and throughout all the songs…so where to begin.

Kyle Dean Massey was born to play Pippin. Although not the original, he is handsome, talented and really understands the plight of the lost boy. He evokes innocence and maturity at the same time. His ‘Corner of the Sky’ is masterfully done and his confusion over his search is really wonderful as exhibited when he sings ‘Extraordinary.’

The lead player role won a Tony for Patina Miller. Her replacement, Ciara Renee, is excellent in her narrator/director role – smartly performed by an absolutely beautiful woman whose vocal ability was brilliant.

Terrence Mann has been one of my favorite Broadway performers for the last thirty years and he did not disappoint in his role of Charlemagne. Dynamic and riveting are two descriptors that come to mind.

Rachel Rae Jones was simply beautiful as the vulnerable older widow, Catherine. Pretty, talented and perfect for the role, she exudes the simplicity of her character gracefully and her banter back and forth with the lead player was masterful.

My favorite song from the show, of course, is ‘No Time At All,’ which is sung by pippin’s grandmother, Bethe, played by the gorgeous Annie Potts from Designing Women fame. I admit, I was a tad nervous – can she sing? Can she do our song better than Lisa and I could have done it? Well, I was so happy that I shed a tear or two when she took over that theater with the song. It evoked a few memories and she sang with such spunk that you could not help but love her. The best part – well – two best parts – first it is a sing along so the audience joined in and I shouted out emphatically, especially when my line came…once risqué – and now so tame by comparison. “Watching your flings be flung all over…and I almost jumped out of my seat. The second best part, the real feat was the charming Annie Potts – in her 60’s – engaging in acrobatics that most 20 year olds cannot do. She is still stunningly beautiful and steals the show.

The show is well worth seeing and paying full price. I am only sorry it took me so long to get to see it ..but I am glad we did. Pippin is a five star production well worth the ticket price.  I always wonder if I would have had the same reaction if Sister Carol did not cut the number…and I guess I will never know…But— so many years later, a special thank you to Sister Joanne Pastori and Mr. Sal Rendina –always grateful for opening our eyes and lifting our voices.

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THEATER REVIEWS

THEATER REVIEW – ROCKY on BROADWAY

ROCKY on Broadway

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 A few years ago, I was doing my traditional after-Christmas shopping and walked into our local Carlton Card store. Each year, Carlton has a select number of ornaments dedicated to the movies – some contemporary and some classic.  This particular year, the movie ornament was from Rocky – the Oscar winning movie from 1976.   Rocky was not one of my all time favorite movies…I enjoyed it and I appreciate it but – truth be told – I would not buy the ornament.  However. at 75% off, this was a steal, especially since I wasn’t purchasing it for myself.  Someone special to me had dropped a hint at some point.  You see, my secretary, Sylvia, mentioned to me – I thought several times – that Rocky was her favorite movie.   She went on and on and on about it.  So, I thought this would be a perfect gift for her the following Christmas.  

I held the ornament for eleven months on my bookshelf at the office.  I delicately wrapped it and placed it in a bag, along with a few other items.  I was so excited.  Melting with anticipation, I watched Sylvia unwrap my find.  Her reaction was priceless – “Oh how nice.” I immediately knew something was wrong as it certainly was not the reaction I was expecting.  “Isn’t Rocky your favorite movie of all time?” I asked.  She howled with laughter and yelled, “NO, I NEVER SAID THAT!!!”  Totally dismayed, I took the ornament back.  Six months later, while preparing for my garage sale, I found out that it was my Cousin Lisa who had that now infamous conversation with me.  Lisa did not want the ornament either and it sold that weekend.

Although my past experiences with this material have been a little “rocky” to say the least, I purchased tickets to “Rocky” on Broadway with some excitement but also some trepidation.  When it premiered in Germany in 2012, it wowed audiences and critics.  However, European audiences and critics differ greatly from their U.S. counterparts.  We are more cynical and we expect so much more from our theater experiences – and we should.   Naturally, I expected a lot from this venture and for the most part, my expectations were fulfilled.

Everyone knows the basic story line of Rocky and there are clearly two stories evolving at the same time.  Rocky is falling in love and Rocky needs to fight to prove to himself that he is worthy of both loving and being loved.  The first act plants those ideas in our heads and introduces us to the characters and their flaws – and then their dreams. “My Nose Ain’t Broken,” was one of the first songs of the show and it allows the Rocky character to really embrace his shortcomings but also his confidence.  Andy Karl is just terrific in this role.  Having seen him in The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Jersey Boys, the role of Rocky allows him to shine — and while he is physically fit and in great shape, one might think he is too small to play the role.    However, any shortcoming he might have in stature he makes up for in his sincerity as Rocky.  He is simple and honest, but also so downtrodden that you have to be on his side.  He allows us to feel for him and with him. So when he and Adrian, played by the fantastic Margo Siebert, meet and begin their relationship, you want them to win more than you want him to win in the ring.  Flaherty and Ahrens songs are tender and allow the two to fall in love against a backdrop of some lovely ballads.

While Act One does what it is supposed to do in setting the stage for a great second act, it lacks luster and needs some work.  This is not to say that the lighting, the staging and the sound are not amazing – they are — but the book is a little weak.  You get through it and feel that you just needed more excitement. Then –  like a boxing match, just you think they are down –they come right back and dazzle you with one of the most exciting pieces of theater I have seen.

Every amazing asset of this show’s Act Two certainly makes up for a less exciting Act One.  The characters have found themselves and now it is off to the match and this is where the technology knocks you out.  The stage moves and bridges and walkways are elevated, the video projections of scenes of the city are played as Rocky does his early morning training sessions.  It is a dazzling spectacle that is only enhanced when there are other men dressed like Rocky running along side him as he ascends the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum.  This sets the pace and the tone for the rest of the show.

In a show that depends so much on special effects, the actors can easily be overshadowed.  That does not happen.  They shine through thanks to the material and the brilliance of the acting. When she has had enough of her brother’s abuses, Adrian throws him out singing “I’m Done,” a number that stopped the show the night I was there.  The song will surely be a cabaret staple and Siebert is destined for a Tony nomination.  Her performance takes Adrian from the shy, subservient woman taking care of her inept brother, to a woman with a heart and mind of her own, now looking out for herself and her relationship with Rocky first.  Terrence Archie’s Apollo Creed is so over the top entertaining that it cannot be anything but excellent.  The supporting cast performs admirably.

When it is time for the fight, we are once again not only invited into a world of amazing technology but we are transformed – attending a boxing match.  The people in the first twelve rows of the center orchestra are asked to leave their seats to take their ringside seats on stage.  The boxing ring is lifted above the audience and there are huge video screens allowing the audience to see every part of the big event.  The entire transformation is spectacular turning into an unprecedented piece of theatrical excellence.  By the time its over, it does not matter who won the fight.. you are dazzled by the knock out. 

I suppose for the purist segment of the theater crowd, Rocky might seem like they are giving into technology for a thrill, but it is a new world out there – a new and exciting world that we need to embrace and of which we need to advance.  Feel good and go see Rocky.

 

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THEATER REVIEWS

THEATER REVIEW – A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER

A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER

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When I purchased the tickets for “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” I expected something that combined the excitement of last season’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood (which incidentally, closed way too soon) and the murdering, bloody mayhem of “Sweeney Todd.”  Based on the 1907 novel “Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal” by Roy Horniman, and later a movie starring Alec Guinness (Kind Heart and Coronets, 1949), the show is a tale of comic revenge – and murder – but without the blood and guts of Sondheim’s classic Sweeney and a lot more comic relief and slapstick.  That is what makes this a fun show.

The story focuses on the antics of Monty Navarro, (played fetchingly by a handsome Bryce Pinkham) a young and somewhat destitute man, whose mother had just died.  Thanks to a lovely woman (Jane Carr) who pays her respects to Monty, he finds out that he is from the line of the D’Ysquiths, a family of well to do upper class Brits who have no use for anyone  who is not of their level.  Then – as if that weren’t enough of a surprise for him – he finds out that he is ninth in line for the title of Earl of Highhurst. (Monty’s mother was disowned for marrying his father, a Castilian.)  Thinking he can gain entry into the family, he pens a letter requesting employment, which is quickly denied by the son of the head of the family, setting in motion his plot to kill off the right in line ahead of him.

The story is told from Monty’s point of view and begins in a jail cell as he awaits a jury decision on his guilt – or innocence.  And so the flashback as to what happened and how Monty landed in jail, begins – showing how each of the D’ysquiths ahead of him in the succession accidentally met their demise.  Of course, there is a secondary love story between Monty and Sibella, a gorgeous blonde beauty (Lisa O’Hare) who loves Monty but loves money more.  Their unrequited love is fodder for a wonderful sub plot.  Lauren Worsham is endearing as Phoebe D’Ysquith, Monty’s other love interest, who – although a D’Ysquith is not in line for the Earldom. So Phoebe is safe from the perils which her other family members face.  This love triangle is crafted with extreme expertise, skillful comedic play and artful singing.

Jefferson Mayes is just brilliant playing – all eight – yes all eight – D’ysquith family members who meet their maker in a series of unfortunate accidents.  He is so full of energy and every character is hilariously portrayed. There is a vast difference in each of the characters and Mayes pulls them off with ease. I got this feeling that I was in the middle of a Benny Hill or a Monty Python set.  His character changes are fresh and sparkling, crisp and quick, and outright adorable.  Mayes is one of the few people who could accomplish these costume and character changes with great skill and ease.  He will get a Tony nomination for his work.

I am a big fan of Steven Lutvak and was thrilled that he is represented here. Lutvak’s music is complimented with intelligent and quick witted lyrics by Robert L. Freedman, who also penned the book.  Their work is so smart that you actually can’t wait for the next murder and for Monty to actually gain his title.  Their work should at least garner them a Tony nomination for best score.

The rest of the cast did a marvelous job and there are lots of laughs.  If you are not a fan of British musicals, it might take you a little while to get comfortable but that disappears quickly.  While the first half of the first act moved a little slowly, they made up for it in Act II.  It is not a splashy musical and there is no blood to be spilled, but “A Gentleman’s Guide …” makes for a lovely theater experience.

 

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THEATER REVIEWS

THEATER REVIEW – THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY

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THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY

Having been on the periphery of the musical theater community for many years, there is a sense of purpose and love that fills the air with each new production and the various players involved.  I want every one to succeed and I want every one to be Tony Award worthy- and if it is not Tony Award worthy (some of the best shows never won a Tony), I want it to have a successful run.  Despite my love of everything Meryl Streep does, and the fact that I used to run an Academy Awards pool every year, I never saw the movie.  I vaguely knew the story, never having read Robert James Waller’s book either. So – I went into The Bridges of Madison County with no preconceived notions or expectations.

I was, however, actually afraid – afraid that this creative piece of musical theater would be scuttled away as quickly as some others this season (Big Fish, First Date). I was afraid I would walk out thinking that this was an enjoyable show but nothing more.  I wanted very much to like this.  I wanted very much to love this.  I LOVED THIS SHOW!!  I saw it in previews, so I am sure that there are some changes, although I cannot imagine what.

For those of you who know the story, allow me a minute to indulge. Francesca, an Italian native (played by Kelli O’Hara) who met her American husband (Hunter Foster) about eighteen years earlier at the end of World War II,  now lives with him and their two children on an Iowa farm.  When the family leaves the home to compete at a county fair for four days, Francesca remains behind.  At the same time, a photo journalist, Robert Kincaid (Steven Pasquale) ends up lost on Francesca’s land.  Instead of giving him directions to his destination, Francesca, sensing an instant attraction,  actually wants to show him exactly where the last “bridge” of Madison County he needs to photograph is located.  This begins a four day affair where two incomplete people find their inner souls as they give themselves completely to each other.

The idea of an affair, or a cheating spouse is a delicate one – and one that does not really resonate with the general public.  After all, adultery goes against every moral rule and regulation that society is built upon.  However, this story is different.  From the first time they meet, they awake inner passions in each other that Francesca thought long dead, and Robert thought unattainable.  The affair – the romance – is treated with such dignity and class that you cannot help but root for both of them to find a way to make this work.  That is the cleverness and wisdom of Marsha Norman’s book.  Complimenting the book is the brilliancy of Jason Robert Brown, whose music and lyrics are haunting and romantic, subtle and meaningful, capturing the honest essence of the characters.  Each song continues to advance this forbidden love story.

O’Hara plays Francesca with such depth, understanding that her family is her whole life, but for a brief moment, entering into a world of “what if’s.” The conflicts and the passions of Francesca come easily for her and she moves through them flawlessly.  Her singing, as usual, is just beautiful. Steven Pasquale’s Robert is strong but fragile, performed with intelligence and trepidation that you cannot help but want him to be happy, again, if only for a brief moment.  Hunter Foster, Carolyn Kinnunen and Derek Klena are wonderful supporting players as Francesca’s husband and two children.  However, the stand out for me from the supporting cast was Cass Morgan, who plays Marge, the nosy but devoted neighbor.

This is not a show that boasts loud, flashy musical numbers.  It is a love story, plain and simple, told in the most elegant of ways.  It may not be a traditional love story, but one that needs to be told as well.  At some point in our lives, we have all asked the question, “What if….”   This show asks us to imagine a little more.

 

NEXT – A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER

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THEATER REVIEWS

THEATER REVIEW – BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL

Image In the mid 1970’s, my oldest friend, Ellen Sullivan, and her family, would make their way from Pelham Bay, in the Bronx, every weekend to their home in the Hamptons.  Once school was done in June, they were gone for the summer.  Our communications over the summer were limited.  There was no way we could call – a phone call from the Bronx to Long Island was considered long distance and we just could not afford that.  So, I mastered the art – and I mean the art – of letter writing…courtesy of Carole King.

    What shall I write?    What can I say?   How can I tell you how much I miss you?

The weather here has been as nice as it can be
Although it doesn’t really matter much to me
For all the fun I’ll have while you’re so far away
It might as well rain until September

 Well maybe it really did not happen like that..but I think I always imagined it would.  You see for me, everything was a song, a commercial, a television show.  We did write letters, but I just imagined that song in my head, singing it to Ellen –it seemed that singing was so much more effective than simply writing a letter.  The song – It Might As Well Rain Until September.” written by King and Gerry Goffin – was and remains  – one of my favorites.

So when the musical, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical – opens with that song as one of the first numbers, I was instantly transported back to my childhood.  And – although I was barely two years old when this song came out,  I always lived as if I were born a decade earlier – much in part due to this kind of music.

The story of Carole King’s rise to fame from a highly driven Brooklyn  girl to an accomplished song writer to her own career as a solo artist, is told through a series of familiar songs and outstanding performances by the accomplished cast.  The partnership, marriage and eventual break-up of King and Goffin are handled with admiration, respect and dignity.  There is no bitterness or anger in the story – which could have easily been added for dramatic effect.  The King/Goffin relationship is offset by also telling the story of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, accomplished songwriters in their own respect, who become the best friends of the couple.

The choice of songs was fantastic – highlighting both couples’ works.  Audiences will be amazed how many great songs were written by these amazing talents. Some of my favorites in the first act included,Take Good Care of My Baby, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, The Locomotion   and One Fine Day.  The second act boasts classics like It’s Too Late, Beautiful, A Natural Woman and I Feel the Earth Move.

Leading the cast is the amazingly talented Jesse Mueller.  This is the fourth role I have had the pleasure of seeing her perform and her range is just amazing.  She plays King with a sensitivity and passion that makes you root for her success.  She becomes Carole King.  There is an element of her portrayal that has you feeling that as talented as she is, King felt she did not deserve to be that successful, especially after she was thrust into her solo career.  The transformation is superb.  The Tony competition will be fierce this year as Mueller is sure to be a hot contender. The other leads are excellent as well.  Anika Larsen and Jared Spector really stand out.  Jake Epstein’s Goffin is soulful and sad at the same time.  The ensemble is wonderful.

I am not a fan of the jukebox musical, but sometimes they get it right – this is one of those times.  Everything gels and you do “feel the earth move.”  Go see Beautiful, The Carole King Musical.  

 NEXT – THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY

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