Theater

Review: Carole King's life is truly 'Beautiful' at Cadillac Theatre

Sarah Bockel as Carole King in the national tour of "Beautiful."
Sarah Bockel as Carole King in the national tour of "Beautiful."

“You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face

And show the world all the love in your heart” – Carole King

“Beautiful – The Carole King Musical,” now playing through Jan. 28 at the Cadillac Theatre in Chicago, is a musical and lyrical journey which is a feast for not just the ears, but the eyes. Many years ago, I hosted a New Year’s Eve party at my home and put a question under everyone’s plate as a conversation starter. One question was, “What’s the first album you ever purchased?” There was a majority of the guests who answered “Tapestry” by Carole King. These songs have formed the fiber of the growing-up years of millions, and the lyrics ring true to this day.

While some in the Juke Box Musical Genre just rely on the music to tell the story and there usually is a thin plot, this is an anomaly in that department. The plot follows Carole’s early songwriting years and collaboration with Gerry Goffin, her first husband. The story also tracks a time in history when women’s roles in the music industry were evolving.

The cast operates as an ensemble, weaving in and out of all the numbers, dancing with great energy and drawing the audience into each and every medley and number.

One tune after another is familiar, and the thought pops into your head: “Carole King wrote this, too?” She and her husband were a prolific lyricist/musician combo, and the music of the ’50s through ’70s is a true journey in time.

The set is a clever system of tracks, with a background that is multi-level and gives an illusion you are viewing the inside workings of a mini-transistor radio. The lighting plot was clever and allowed for seamless scene changes. The entire staging was historically accurate, and the costuming of the show gave the expected visual pop of the ’60s and ’70s fashion.

While we all know Carole’s beautiful music, this musical also is interesting in terms of her path and backstory not as well known in our culture. It was compelling. The words of the title song, as noted above, are such wonderful advice to all generations. Stay positive and good things will happen. Life is truly “Beautiful.”

• Mary Beth Euker is a co-founder of Cricket Theatre Company in Lake Zurich and has been in several local community theater productions in Woodstock and Skokie.

“BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL”

WHEN: Through Jan. 28

WHERE: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago

COST & INFO: Tickets start at $30. Tickets and information: www.broadwayinchicago.com.

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