The School For Scandal, Startford Festival 

Who’d  have thunk that a songwriting synthesis could bring the kind of joy that Beautiful: The Carole King Musical has achieved in Toronto this summer.  This splendid tribute to the First Lady of Song plays the Ed Mirvish Theatre until September 3, 2017.


There has always seemed to be two kinds of music makers in our midst.

The first hungers for the front & centre spotlight to garner attention they feel is duly owed through here today/gone tomorrow disposable ballads and anthems.  The other is devoted to craft, substance and is usually quite comfortable to sit off in the corner where no one can seem them so they create something meaningful for the masses.

Despite penning more than 118 Billboard hit songs throughout her distinguished career, the most successful female composer of the second half of the 20th century, definitely fits into the latter category.

Bookended by a concert at Carnegie Hall before journeying into a 16-year old Brooklyn gal’s songwriting ascent, Carole King, played by the vocally exuberant Chilina Kennedy, puts it in crystal clear context when she explains that not everything in life turns out exactly the way it was intended but ‘sometimes when it doesn’t, you find something beautiful.’

Through the pleasure and the pain, playgoers see a deeply human popstar at her best—an unknown treasure to music buyers of the early 60s, an inspiration to the rest of us trying to find ourselves with the help of smooth sounds and heartfelt lyrics.   Beautiful: The Carol King Musical isn’t just a jukebox offering that takes you back to yesteryear when song factories where in fashion, it speaks to reality of what it means when all your hopes come crashing down and you have no other option but to keep moving forward.

Audiences really do get it all in this Tony Award winning story where Doug McGrather’s book hits all the high notes in chronicling  a young woman’s path within a teeny bopper musical landscape dominated by ‘lyrics a dolphin could write.’  With a baby on the way and future husband Gerry Goffin (Liam Tobin) pledging to secure a new tomorrow, along with a cozy friendship with musical rivals Cynthia Weill (Erika Olsin) and Barry Mann (Ben Fankhauser), we see and hear all the songs recording artists of the day relied on in living out their own ambitions.

It’s superberly easy to follow, brilliantly orchestrated, and layered with endless comedy.

Why a generationally galvanizing musical spiked with heartache took so long to get reach us is a mystery to end all mysteries.  Rarely does a presentation so uplifting come together this neatly to define tenderness and class for modern audiences.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is theatre’s smart yet subtle way of saying ‘You’ve Got a Friend.’

BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL book by Douglas McGrath, words and music by Gerry Goffin & Carole King and Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil  PRINCESS OF WALES THEATRE,  300 King Street, Toronto DATES April 9 – May 4, 2019 TICKETS $59.00 – $169.00 416-872-1212 CAST Chilina Kennedy, Suzanne Grodner, Elena Ricardo, John Michael Dias, Ximone Rose, James Clow, Liam  Tobin, Josh A. Dawson, Jay McKenzie, Leighton Samuels, Avery Smith, Erika Olson, Ben Fankhauser, Erin Clemons, Alexis Tidwell, Andrew Brewer, Traci Elaine Lee and Aashely Morgan DIRECTOR Marc Bruni CHOREOGRAPHY Josh Prince SET Derek McLane COSTUMES Alejo Vietti LIGHTING Peter Kaczorowski SOUND DESIGN Brian  Ronan

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