Carole King’s Story: A Musical Memory Lane
Reviewed by Vicki Stokes
Huron Country Playhouse is now in full operation with the opening of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on the Mainstage, the larger of the two venues. Once again, Drayton Entertainment is bringing affordable, high-quality entertainment to the Grand Bend area.
This music-filled production is a jukebox musical similar to Jersey Boys, based on the true stories of the musicians involved. The songs are all former hits, many of them written by characters in the musical, and are played by a live band. They are either sung by the songwriters at the piano or by groups such as the Shirelles and the Drifters, with their glittery costumes and highly choreographed moves. There is an abundance of humour in the form of clever one-liners.
The opening story is extraordinary, with household name Carole King playing one of her songs at Carnegie Hall, which immediately flips to the 16-year-old Carole Klein, having the talent and the gumption to head to a large music publisher to get one of her songs published, against her mother’s wishes. She is quickly accepted by Donny Kirshner, and goes on to meet future collaborator and husband Gerry Goffin, lyricist Cynthia Weil, and songwriter Barry Mann.
After this, Carole King’s story alone isn’t enough to make the musical. She’s strait-laced, plain-dressing, and hard-working. Aside from the teen pregnancy, she is portrayed as nearly flawless, writing hit after hit while raising children and dealing with a troubled husband. The other songwriters’ stories and the glamorous performers help round out the show. Finally, things come full circle with Carole realizing that she can perform her own hit songs, and we are again treated to her performance at Carnegie Hall.
The Drayton Entertainment production of this musical is fabulous. Having been performed at the Hamilton Family Theatre in Cambridge at the beginning of May, it has been brought to the Grand Bend area for another run. The talent is top-notch, and the music makes for a very entertaining show. You’ll hear hits such as “On Broadway”, “Splish Splash” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”, as well as King and Goffin creations such as “The Locomotion”, “On Broadway” and “It’s Too Late”.
Emily Lukasik has a lovely voice and fortunately doesn’t attempt to imitate Carole King. It’s easy to feel for her as she deals with the ups and downs of life. Laura May Nason plays her dear and talented friend, Cynthia Weil. (Sadly, the real Cynthia Weil passed away on June 2 of this year.) It is a treat to see two such strong women from an era where sexism was the norm.
The entire cast is flawless, as is the music. The costumes are perfect for the era, from the day-to-day office wear to the extravagant stage costumes of the singing groups. The set is built up of small pieces such as the piano and different couches and tables, with clever walls that open up to represent different settings. There is a second level for performers, adding height and interest.
For a trip down a musical memory lane, for top-quality entertainment, and for a summer’s night outing, I recommend this show. Who knows, maybe you will find yourself going home and digging out your old Tapestry album, or at least streaming the songs and reliving the magic of those golden hits.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical continues until July 1 at Huron Country Playhouse, Mainstage. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office at 519-238-6000 or Toll Free at 1-855-372-9866, or by checking www.huroncountryplayhouse.com for availability.
Photo: Kaden Forsberg as Gerry Goffin, Emily Lukasik as Carole King. Photo by Drayton Entertainment.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Book by Douglas McGrath
Words and Music by Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil
Directed by: John Stefaniuk
Choreographed by: Hollywood Jade
Performed by Emily Lukasik, Kaden Forsberg, Jacob James, Laura May Nason, Nicholas Combitsis et al.
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
Mainstage, Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend
June 15 to July 1, 2023
Reviewed by Vicki Stokes