In 2000 Billboard Magazine Pop Music researcher Joel Whitburn named Carole King the most successful female songwriter of the 1955-1999 era, writing or co-writing 118 songs that made it into the magazine’s charts (Paul McCartney was the overall winner with 169).
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which sees Esther Hannaford in the title role, tracks the composer’s career from the beginning of her professional relationships with record producer Don Kirshner (Mike McLeish) and collaborator – and very soon to be husband – Gerry Goffin (Josh Piterman), to her 1971 Carnegie Hall concert, which serves as a framing device for the show.
Mike McLeish, Josh Piterman, Esther Hannaford, Mat Verevis, Amy Lehpamer in Beautiful. Photos © Joan Marcus
Opposite Hannaford and McLeish are friends and competing song-writing duo Cynthia Weil (Amy Lehpamer) and Barry Mann (Mat Verevis), who provide much of the comic relief – and an excuse to fill out the score with other songs from the era besides King’s.
While the jokes are of the 1990s sit-com variety, they’re delivered impeccably by the cast and Douglas McGrath’s book is snappy enough to keep the audience entertained –...