Beautiful: the Carole King Musical: Theater Review


Israel Taylor, Entertainment Editor

In early February, Beautiful, the Carole King musical made a stop at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. High school students like me may not know much about King, but the songs she wrote for herself and other artists influenced a generation of musicians. The show is about her starting out as a songwriter and follows her through creating her most famous album, Tapestry, which was released in 1971.

Did the cast fill the enormous shoes of Carole King’s Legacy? Well, those shoes can only be filled by the woman who wore them, but the cast comes extremely close to achieving it. Julia Knitel, carrying the part of Carole, does an amazing job of committing to her role with her convincing 60’s New York accent, while relaying the elegant yet exciting poise of King herself. Gerry Goffin (Liam Tobin) is exceptionally well played and had great understanding of his character, who married Carole not out of love but because she was having his baby.

The show begins with a black grand piano polished and glimmering in a purple spotlight. Carole, in a white and blue dress, breaks the fourth wall, speaking from the perspective of a new solo artist. As she finishes her monologue, the piano mysteriously drifts off stage. The show had amazing music, thanks to Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Barry Mann and Cyntheia Wilde and great moments of laughter. The character Music Neil (Ben Fankhauser), offered comedic relief with his constant state of sickness.


Seamless costume transitions of velcro designed dressed transformed into concert gowns shining like the stars the actresses were portraying. At one point, during The Locomotion, Little Eva (Rosharra Francis) and The Drifters (Josh A. Dawson, Paris Nix, Jay Mckenzie, Noah Ricketts) danced behind a drape and the next thing you know they’re in a completely new outfit before you could even blink. The set had two stories that emitted light on the pillars that held the staircases up. The use of two stories on each side gave the illusion of a a cramped and busy recording studio with many artists, adding four new areas to the stage.

The most memorable moment of the show was when Carole began singing Natural Woman near the end. The audience began swaying their heads and fought themselves not to sing along. Then, the song transitioned into Carole’s classic, Beautiful.  The show ends with Carole speaking to the audience, after the release of her Tapestry album, just as the show began. At the end of her monologue the curtain call begins and the whole cast roars, I Feel The Earth Move as Carole requests the audience to join in.

I give this show a solid 4 out 5 starts. Its multiple messages of independence, self discovery, expression through art, and heartbreak all spoke to Carole’s life, the generation Carole’s music was expressed in and can now teach this generation. After the show, I spoke to one of the actors, James Michael Lambert, who expressed to me that the show can still speak to today’s generation of young adults.

“It spoke to the time, war during that time period…protesting; Any form of art comes from society or our imagination,” he said. ” [Carole King’s] universal message was love and it’s still going on today.”

Carole King has been recognized at Kennedy Center Honors and has influenced the music industry with her presence spanning from 1960. She released 40 albums and has writing or co-writing credit on over 118 pop hits that appear on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1955 and 1999.  She is also very political. In protest of Donald Trump, she has released a rerecording of her song One Small Voice while also writing a letter explaining why. The letter explained how relevant the song is currently, how a million small voices can change the world. Releasing 40 albums and writing or co-writing over 118 pop hits to appear on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1955 and 1999.

Santaluces Reading Couch, Mrs. Sampson has a deep connection to the music of Carole King, tearing up talking about the artist and her music.

“Carole King has been a large part of my life since my aunt introduced me to her music as I recovered from smallpox as a child,” she said.