Quote of the Day: A song is roughly three minutes long. What can you say in three minutes? You can tell a whole story in three minutes. Conversation between Carole King and her collaborator and sometimes husband Gerry Goffin. 

Reflections on Beautiful, The Carole King Musical

Queens College. Sarah Bockel (“Carole King”) and Dylan S. Wallach (“Gerry Goffin”) Photo by Joan Marcus

I was not able to attend media night at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis, MN on October 22, 2018, for Beautiful, the Carole King Musical, but I was fortunate to be able to attend the Saturday matinee. My friend gifted me with a ticket, and it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Beautiful, the title says it all, is the story of Carole King, songwriter, singer, and iconic voice of the 1960′ & 70’s. She wrote songs that many of the legends of the time recorded, then went on to record her own album, Tapestry, which won the Grammy Award for album of the year in 1972. She writes like a girl. She sings like a girls. And, lives a strong, independent, and powerful life like a girl. I wept through the entire second half of this show. Sarah Bockel’s portrayal of this iconic woman is phenomenal. People were standing for the ovation even before she finished belting out the final phrases of Beautiful. I still have goosebumps.

Reflections on Beautiful, The Carole King Musical

1650 Broadway. (l to r) James Clow (“Don Kirshner”), Dylan S. Wallach (“Gerry Goffin”), Sarah Bockel (“Carole King”), Jacob Heimer (“Barry Mann”) and Alison Whitehurst (“Cynthia Weil”). Photo: Joan Marcus

Today, it is more common for performers to write their own songs, but back in the 1960’s, people like Carole King and her friends were hired to come up with hit songs for popular groups like the Shirelles, the Drifters, Little Eva, and Bobby Vee. Carole King and her husband, at the time, Gerry Goffin (Dylan S. Wallach) wrote “Take Good Care of My Baby” for Bobby Vee, which hit #1 in September of 1961. Other hits you might recognize are Some Kind of Wonderful (The Drifters), Happy Days are Here Again, Will You Love Me Tomorrow (The Shirelles), On Broadway (The Drifters), The Locomotion (Little Eva), You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling (The Righteous Brothers), and more. 

Reflections on Beautiful, The Carole King Musical

The Shirelles. (l to r) DeAnne Stewart, McKynleigh Alden Abraham, Alexis Tidwell and Marla Louissaint. Photo: Joan Marcus

The creative teams of King and Goffin and their friends Barry Mann (Jacob Heimer) and Cythia Weil (Alison Whitehurst) were often pitted against each other to come up with the next hit song. Producer Don Kirshner (James Clow) brought out the best, and worst, in the couples, and has a long list of hits for his efforts. It was fascinating to watch this part of the drama unfold as we watched the creative process between the lyricists and composers, the couples and their relationships, and the way their lives came together, and sometimes fell apart. 

Reflections on Beautiful, The Carole King Musical

“The Locomotion.” The Touring Cast of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. Alexis Tidwell as Little Eva with the Big, bold voice! Photo: Joan Marcus

Carole King is an amazing woman. I so admire all her work and dedication, and her strength to rise to the top in her artistic life. She is truly an inspiration. I have always felt a connection to her songs like Natural Woman, It’s Too Late, and my personal favorite You’ve Got a Friend. Watching Sarah Bockel bring Carole and her story to life on Saturday afternoon made the connection even deeper. I understood why her songs play in my mind during the most emotional moments of life. 

The musicians were phenomenal. Susan Draus was down in the pit conducting and on the keys, and often Sarah Bockel was mimicking her, or one of the other keyboardists, playing. It went right to my piano playin’ heartstrings. Nick Williams was also on keys. Larry Steppler on drums, and Oscar Bautista on guitar, and many local musicians, including Denise Prosek who usually plays and directs music at Theater Latte’ Da. Local musicians mixed with touring talent employing many fine musicians all came together in this spectacular performance. I’m so glad I got the chance to experience it. I carried it in my heart all the way home. I didn’t even listen to anything else on the drive, and when I got home, I dialed up Carole King songs on my playlist.

My sister has an awesome new stereo system, complete with a turntable. She asked me what records I’d like to play on it. I know which one I want for Christmas, now, Nancy, Tapestry by Carole King. I could listen to it all day long. 

Beautiful, the Carole King Musical, directed by Marc Bruni, Choreographed by Josh Prince, book by Douglas McGrath, on tour now. Check the website for tour stops near you or see it on Broadway!

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What artists inspire you?