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‘Beautiful’ is unforgettable trip down memory lane

Sarah Bockel as Carole King and Dylan S. Wallach as Gerry Goffin. (Courtesy of Joan Marcus)

Carole King has written songs that have influenced generations.

Her voice is embedded in popular culture.

On Wednesday night, the national tour of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” opened at Popejoy Hall.

Heads were bopping. Many faces were adorned with smiles.

The two-hour show was chock-full of songs that King had a hand in creating — taking the audience on a journey down memory lane.

It runs through Sunday, June 16.

The musical tells the true story of King’s rise to stardom — from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann.

It follows her path to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in pop music history – following a string of heartache.

In the latter part of the 20th century, King either wrote or co-wrote 118 pop hits between 1955 and 1999.

On opening night, Kaylee Harwood stepped into King’s shoes and knocked it out of the park.

Opening with “So Far Away,” Harwood quickly set the tone for what would be a simple, yet amazing night.

Harwood’s voice is similar to King’s, though she was able to take each song to a level all her own.

The musical’s book is written by Douglas McGrath.

The original production of “Beautiful” had its world premiere at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco in 2014.

In January 2014, the production made its way to Broadway where it opened at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. The same year, the production piked up two Tony Awards for best leading actress and best sound design.

By 2015, a West End production begin in England, as well as the U.S. tour taking shape.

King is behind some of the most memorable songs of the last 60 years.

Songs such as “It’s Too Late,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman,” “Brother, Brother,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “You’ve Got a Friend” and “Locomotion” are part of the hits that have inspired generations.

Goffin is played by Dylan S. Wallach. Throughout the production, Wallach captured the push and pull Goffin experienced. From getting married young and having a child to the yearning for something more, Wallach captured every peak and valley.

Also stand outs in the musical are Alison Whitehurst and Jacob Heimer, who play Weil and Mann respectively.

Comedic timing is something that can’t be taught. These two had it in spades. Heimer dove into Mann’s hypochondriac ways, nailing the delivery with a dead pan result.

And then Whitehurst complemented the relationship of Mann/Weil. She brought a razor quick response to each piece of comedy. During each scene, she became the sunshine to Mann’s hovering dark cloud.

The ensemble cast was delightful. And for the first time in my life, I got to see The Drifters, The Shirelles, Little Eva, Neal Sedaka and The Righteous Brothers up close.

The stage transitions were smooth as the pace of the musical added to its allure. There was enough time to focus on the scene at hand and with an blink of an eye, the set was completely different.

Two hours seemed to go by way to fast. The most difficult part of the entire night was actually staying seated.

King’s story is powerful and one that speaks to many. Her songs helped shape generations.

In a nutshell, the musical is simply “beautiful.”

 

‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical’

WHEN:  7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13 and Friday, June 14; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, June 15; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 16

WHERE: Popejoy Hall, University of New Mexico campus

HOW MUCH: $48-$88, plus fees at unmtickets.com, UNM Bookstore ticket office, UNM ticket office at Dreamstyle Arena, by phone at 925-5858 or 877-664-8661

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