Jake Epstein delivers a fine performance as Gerry Goffin, a man torn between true love to King, but with a mind and a heart too passionate and active to settle down to commit to her or their music. Anika Larsen is a classy Cynthia Weil who along with Jarrod Spector as Barry Mann are quite the dynamic duo. Both are charming performers that pair well alongside Mueller and Epstein.
Directed by Mike Bruni and choreographed by Josh Prince, the show’s songs are integrated seamlessly with the storytelling. Derek McClane’s sleek scenic cleverly transforms the stage into a music studio, a Brooklyn apartment, and even Carnegie Hall, without unnecessary fanfare, allowing for the show’s actors to do the real work of setting both the tone and location.
Combining the hits of the great Carole King with the soul stirring performance of Jessie Mueller, this new musical is a must see. When Ms. Mueller returns to the stage one last time at the show’s end to perform the King classic, “I Feel the Earth Move,” the crowd goes wild. Whether it’s praise for Mueller or a plea for the show not to end is anyone’s guess, but one thing is clear: Beautiful is, well, just what it claims to be.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is currently playing an open-ended run at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in New York City. Directed by Mike Bruni, Choreographed by Josh Prince, and Musical Supervision by Jason Howland. Music and lyrics by Jerry Goffin, Carole King, Barry Mann, and Cynthia Weil. Starring Jessie Mueller and Jake Epstein.
Christopher White is the Director of Education and Programs for the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, author of Renewal: How a New Generation of Faithful Priests and Bishops is Revitalizing the Catholic Church, and theatre critic for Aleteia. He is the 2013-2014 Robert Novak Fellowship Award Winner and writes frequently on matters of bioethics, public policy, and theatre. He lives in New York City.