I remember the first time I heard “So Far Away” on Carole King’s album, ‘Tapestry’. It was 1971 and I lived in Clearwater, Florida. A friend’s mom bought it for her James Taylor crazy daughter Margie after learning he played guitar on the album. As a 15 year-old, three-years out as a transplant from my childhood home in PA, I had not traveled ‘home’ since moving to Florida and missed my favorite places, people and seasons. Three years in and I missed where I used to live; I felt, “So Far Away”. As dinnertime rolled around I grabbed my bike pedaling slowly towards home as I sang softly to myself. Heading down Sunset Point Road instead of turning towards home off Highland Avenue I stopped at Roses Department store where I grabbed my copy of ‘Tapestry’ before rolling down the hill to Byram Drive.
Crashing through the front door, my bike abandoned against a tree, my mother urged me to wash my hands before dinner as I hurried down the long hall to my bedroom. Forty-five years later as I stare down the barrel of my 60th birthday, the album I bought that night spins on the turntable next to me as I write. Worn, the needle hangs up twice on “So Far Away”, but I love it as much today as I did then. Worn myself, Carole King’s music has been a constant in my life. She is an incredibly strong soul and timeless too, proven generations later by years of fans old and new gathering to see and hear Beautiful – The Carole King Musical as it showcases a strong soul.
I love Ms. King and cannot express the sheer glee I felt opening night at the Straz Performing Arts Center. Beautiful The Carole King Musical tells Carole’s story; the story of her indomitable spirit, her rise to stardom and showcases the ups and downs during her marriage to co-writer Gerry Goffin as well as her relationship with Don Kirschner and songwriting duo Mann-Weil.
Staging and Production
The set design is spectacular, I loved the symbolism of ‘the door’ and the production’s use of ‘doors’ relating it to when a door closes, another opens. It takes a strong soul to not be crushed by criticism and betrayal, yet this strong soul, young as she was, never doubted, relentlessly perusing her goals. Though she may have lost faith in her husband, she never lost faith in herself. And as one door closed in her life, as times changed, she adapted, opening new doors, eventually becoming the voice of a generation! From the opening act, to the closing act I was never bored and we laughed OFTEN! Though it is a little ‘cookie-cutter’ in that the play is designed to bring you LOTS of songs, it was never dull. The story line progressed well, the costuming and set designs were simple and effective.
The closing act took me by surprise. In all my years watching theatrical productions, watching famous singers live in intimate settings, never have I ever experienced what happened at the end of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Tying the opening act to the closing act in a very clever way, Carole sings. However in the closing scene, the audience, in standing ovation began to sing, at the top of their lungs, then began to dance! I had goosebumps, a smile on my face and tears on my cheeks as I witnessed hundreds of people, of every age and demographic, singing and dancing with joy. You have to see this production!
Check out the video below, Carole surprised the cast the first time she saw the production then sang with ‘herself’, it is sweet!
Carole King has a strong beautiful soul!
Think about this for a moment. Her first album was a disappointment, it flopped. Undaunted she wrote the music while Goffin wrote lyrics for Tapestry, OK, lots of power couples do this type of thing, right. Now, imagine doing it knowing your husband is cheating on you. Imagine learning the depth of his deceit, finding out he got one of his many mistresses pregnant. Imagine buying a house for his mistress and her daughter in the midst of writing Tapestry and suddenly the notes she wrote take on new meaning. How did she end up with this guy? That part is interesting too, learn how in this interesting, funny production of the Carole King Musical.
Following the birth of their child when Carole was 17 they wrote over 100 songs, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” for The Shirelles, “Take Good Care of My Baby” for Bobby Vee “Up on the Roof” for the Drifters and “Don’t Bring Me Down” for The Animals. Truly I had no idea they write for The Monkees! Interesting isn’t it, when you know what is going on in a creative person’s mind, it changes the way you see and feel their art. Though they took a few liberties with Carole’s biography for the sake of the stage for the most part it was accurate. An admitted ‘Carole Stalker” I enjoyed seeing a little further behind the curtain of this brilliant, kind, forgiving, strong soul, this woman who for more than 20 years held the record for most weeks at No. 1 by a female artist with an album I cherish, Tapestry!
Beautiful ~ The Carole King Musical Showcases a Strong Soul
- Performances for Beautiful – The Carol King Musical begin April 26, 2016 and close MAY 01, 2016
- Carol Morsani Hall at The Straz Performing Arts Center
- The Thursday, April 28, 7:30 p.m. show will be Sign Language Interpreted.
- Beautiful – The Carole King Musical Tickets Range from $75 to $155
- If you have a Group of 10 or more you can save on tickets.
- You can also save by becoming a Member at The Straz
- Dine before or after performances of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at The Cafe or Maestro’s