Beautiful, The Musical - Carole King

I saw the musical Beautiful last night in Chicago at the Oriental Theater.  Pretty good.  (What if I ended my review there, would that be enough?)  It's wall-to-wall music, as you'd probably expect, and Carole comes out as angelically perfect, which, I guess is OK.  Men are kind of either the comic foil (Don Kirschner character, and Barry Mann character), or the conflicted bad guy (her ex-husband Jerry.)

It's basically some episodes woven together to show you how Carole persisted and stayed positive and was this sort of 'babe in the woods', and came out to be one of the premier songwriters of the Sixties and Seventies.  I like it because of the music, and the musical performances mostly, and the situations are interesting, sort of, but it was very much a lollipop sort of thing.  

I find the whole songwriting factory thing very interesting, and I know it persisted into the 1960's until the  'singer / songwriter' took over in the 1970's.  I sort of wish there was more focus on how that worked, but that would have required more plot development and a deeper story, and that is not the goal of this show.

But my personal observation of Carole King, the celebrity, is that she seems, in spite of everything a very positive person, and someone who did overcome the stereotypes and obstacles put in front of her to do something she loved and to do it well.  So, uplifting is ok with me, I don't mean to be such a cynic about the whole thing.  It was entertaining.

The goal of this show was to be uplifting, and pro-woman, and to showcase what an amazing variety of songs Carole King wrote and sang and was a part of.  And it is amazing, what she accomplished, this little Jewish girl from New York, with the Shirelles and the Drifter and even on her own, with Tapestry.  I'd recommend it to anyone who listened to pop radio in the 1970's, especially women, and if you're a Carole King fan, it's a no-brainer.  It was fun.  Don't come looking for The Iceman Cometh, but be ready to just listen to some tight, fun, well-written pop songs from the late 1950's through to her Tapestry album.


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