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Beautiful – Some Kind of Wonderful

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Beautiful – The Musical
Abby Muller , Becky Gulsvig,, Ben Fankhauser, Liam Tobin,Beautiful – The Musical

Abby Muller with Becky Gulsvig as Cynthia Weill, Ben Fankhauser as Barry Mann, and Liam Tobin as Gerry Goffin in “Beautiful – The Musical.” (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Carole King is many things. An American composer who is a 2015 Kennedy Center Honoree. A singer-songwriter, responsible for the groundbreaking and generation defining album, Tapestry. A four time Grammy Award-winning artist, including both the prestigious and coveted Album of the Year and Record of the Year trophies.  An inductee into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A recipient of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in December 2012. Adding to that illustrious list, the subject of a winning new musical, Beautiful The Carole King Story, making its national tour debut right here in Chicago. Borrowing the narratives from other successful bio-musicals including Jersey BoysMotown the Musical and DreamgirlsBeautiful uses the standard template, following an artist from humble beginnings to epic super-stardom.  The solid direction from Marc Bruni and the inspired choreography of Josh Prince make up for any of the lulls from the book written by Douglas McGrath. The real star here is undoubtedly the music. In 2000, Billboard magazine named King the most successful female songwriter from 1955-1999 as she wrote or co-wrote 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  Hearty, emotionally riddled musical numbers is the reason to invest your time in Beautiful.

Abby Muller, Liam Tobin, Beautiful – The Musical

Abby Muller and Liam Tobin

We begin our jukebox journey with 16 year old Carol Klein, a Brooklyn girl with a gift for song writing and a passion to live a normal life in the suburbs, trying to convince her mother to let her go to Times Square to meet with a record publisher. The overbearing Jewish mother, Genie Klein (Suzanna Grodner) begrudgingly agrees.  Quickly, teenaged songwriter, Carol (Abby Mueller) is signed, then partnered with handsome lyricist, Gerry Goffin (Liam Tobin).  They quickly fall in love, have a baby and get married. In that order. Record producer, Donnie Kirshner (Curt Bouril) plays this song writing duo against another set of up-and-coming music writing contemporaries, hypochondriac, Barry Mann (Ben Fankhauser) and Cynthia Weil (Becky Gulsvig).  The quartet begin a lifelong friendship and, simultaneously, a healthy professional rivalry. What a competition! These teams penned hit songs for artists like the Drifters, The Everly Brothers, the Shirelles, Little Eva and The Monkees.  On Broadway, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, The Locomotion, and Pleasant Valley Sunday, to be specific. Their personal lives paralleled their private lives as well. “You had a fight, so we had to have a bigger fight” quips Weil. The remainder of the show follows the newly named Carole King through the eventual demise of her marriage and professional partnership with Gerry, who battled his own litany of issues including drugs, infidelity and mental illness. At times, the book plays much like a Lifetime television movie for women. The saving graces, the unflinchingly raw performance from Abby Mueller and the spectacular chain of musical numbers. Beginning with a toe tapping, explosive medley of hits from the 50’s and 60’s in an impressive, two-story set of metal cubicles, designed by Derek McLane, the visual parallels to both the recording studio machine and the hit makers, locked in their offices, cranking out bubblegum music to the masses, can’t be missed.

Abby Muller , Beautiful – The Musical

Abby Muller

If Act One is the whirlwind ride up the fame ladder, Act two grounds the proceedings with richer emotional pathos. Set in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Carole has found herself at a cross roads, professionally, with the rise of singer songwriters,  her composing skills are not as in demand by a recording industry looking for deeper meaning and personally, she is a divorcee in her late twenties, two kids and a cloudy future. It is here, the musical truly solidifies. Originally played on Broadway by Tony Award-winner, Jessie Mueller, and now played by her sister, Abby Mueller, King finding her own voice was the thread that connected the audience to her artistically.  Or, put simply by her record producer in the show, “You’re a girl and you sing girl songs.” When Mueller sat down at the piano to belt out the rapturous, Its Too Late, the audience was left with chills. “And it’s too late, baby, now it’s too late. Though we really did try to make it. Somethin’ inside has died and I can’t hide and I just can’t fake it.” Her lifelong personal journey summed up in two remarkable sentences. As King prepares to relocate to Los Angeles, this lifelong New Yorker says good bye to her past with You’ve Got a Friend. Rounding out the musical, we learn the agony behind (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, the triumph of the title track, Beautiful, and the audience is invited to sing and dance along with the cast to a post curtain call hit, I Feel the Earth Move.

Abby Muller , Beautiful – The Musical

Abby Muller

Transporting the actors through the glamor of the 1950’s, the political unrest of the 1960’s, and the bell bottoms of the 1970’s, the fantastic costume designs by Alejo Vietti and impressive wig and hair design of Charles G. LaPointe, delight.  Peter Kaczorowski’s lighting design transplants the audience from the low-lit, midnight streets of Manhattan, to the sunny suburbs and finally, center stage, at Carnegie Hall, where Carole’s story both begins and ends. We know what happened. Tapestry topped the U.S album chart for 15 weeks in 1971. King went on to record an additional 25 solo albums. Beautiful the Musical was rewarded as well, with seven Tony Award nominations and two wins; Jessie Mueller took home the 2014 Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical and Brian Ronan received the Best Sound Design of a Musical. But accolades aside, Beautiful The Carole King Story has stunning, truly transcendent, moments of truth.   The production numbers will have you both tapping a toe, then shedding a tear. While the story may not be perfect, the real reason to attend is the fabulous music.That, to make it crystal clear, is Some Kind of Wonderful. 

Beautiful The Carole King Musical is currently playing at the Oriental Theatre through February 21, 2016.

Stephen S. Best is currently a freelance writer for the Times Square Chronicles, covering the performing arts scene in the greater Chicagoland area. He has been a theater aficionado for years, attending his first live production, Annie, at the tender age of six. After graduating from Purdue University, Stephen honed his skills attending live theater, concerts and art installations in New York and Chicago. Stephen's keen eye and thorough appreciation for both theater patrons' time and entertainment dollar makes him a valuable asset and his recommendations key. Stephen currently lives in downtown Chicago.

Broadway

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

KNIVES OUT AGAIN — (Via Deadline) The next installment in the Knives Out series has its title. Writer/director Rian Johnson announced on social media this morning that the film will be called Wake Up Dead Man. It was also confirmed that the film would come out sometime in 2025 and that production would be under way soon with Daniel Craig returning to star.

Johnson returns as the writer and director of the series and will also produce the pic with his partner Ram Bergman. Plot details are unknown and as of now Craig is the only talent involved.

The most recent pic, Glass Onion, bowed in 2022 with Craig returning as world famous detective Benoit Blanc. The film premiered on Netflix after the streamer made a record setting $450 million deal for the two sequels with this being the third in the series.

SHORT TAKES — The trailer for Beverley Hills Cop 4 is out. Here it is:

Harold Faltermeyer

The theme for the movie sounds like a cheap re-working of “Alex F” an electronic instrumental track by German musician Harold Faltermeyer …

The Wallows

The Wallows, who I’ve never heard of, kicked off the Today Show Summer Concert series. When interviewed, each of them said they used to watch the show before they went to school. My, I wonder how that made the hosts feel? Even Carson Daly, who’s no kid either, must have batted an eye. Interesting band. Nothing special I saw, but good luck to them …

David Krumholtz

SIGHTING: David (Numbers) Krumholtz at the Factory Bar Friday for Trivia Night … (Via Theatermania) Grammy

Stephanie Mills

Award winner Stephanie Mills will return to Broadway to play Hermes in the Tony Award-winning musical Hadestown. Her first performance will be July 2, coinciding with the start dates of Maia Reficco and Yola. Mills takes over from Jon Jon Briones, who plays his final performance June 30. Mills originated the role of Dorothy in the first Broadway production of The Wiz in 1975. Her last appearance on Broadway was for a special concert in 1989 … The Washington Post will go full AI. Check out this story: https://futurism.com/washington-post-pivot-ai

Tracker

… A short Memorial Day-vacay in East Hampton was great. Checked out Sakura and was introduced to CBS’ Tracker with Justin Hartley. Smartly done and directed by Ken Olin from Thirtysomething. Impressed for sure …

Billy Joel

The Long Island Musical Hall of Fame abruptly canceled their June 7 event, honoring Billy Joel at Tilles Center.  Performers at the event were to be Run-DMC; Debbie Gibson; and Felix Cavaliere.  Joel said a family event would prevent him from attending …

RIP producer

Al Ruddy

. He produced The Godfather and Million Dollar Baby. Check out Deadline’s obit: https://deadline.com/2024/05/al-ruddy-dead-godfather-million-dollar-baby-1235942541/

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Marsha Stern; Jane Berk; Randy Jones; James Edstrom; Chuck Scarborough; Bill Adler; Dan Zelinski; Bobby Shaw; Mike Greenly; Mark Bego; Roy Trakin; Crispin Cioe; Steve Walter; Steve Paul; Lou Reed; Foreigner; Bobby Watman; Bobby Orlando; Adriana Kaegi; Thomas Silverman; Seymour Stein; Barry and Marissa Zelman; Dan Zelinski; and ZIGGY!

Images on this page have been licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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Broadway

Backstage with Richie Ridge Presents

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Drama Desk and OCC member Richie Ridge, of Broadway World’s Backstage with Richie Ridge, will moderate a discussion with Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James, both Drama Desk nominees for Lead Performance in a Musical for Days of Wine and Roses, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 29 at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Robin Williams Center (247 West 54th St., opposite Studio 54). Drama Desk members are invited. The doors will open at 1:30 p.m., and attendance is first come, first served. Latecomers may not be admitted.

Based on the 1964 movie about a couple falling in love in 1950s New York and struggling to maintain a family in the face of alcohol addiction, Days of Wine and Roses, with music and lyrics by Adam Guettel and a book by Craig Lucas, opened at Studio 54 on Jan. 28, 2024. O’Hara and d’Arcy James are both Tony nominees as well.

SAG-AFTRA Foundation and BroadwayWorld have partnered for a filmed Conversations Q&A series to recognize and celebrate the vibrant theater community in New York City and the actors who aspire to have a career on the stage and screen.

If you would like to attend, please fill out the form here. Be sure to select the Non-member option.

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Broadway

Backstage with Richie Ridge Presents The Outsiders

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Richie Ridge, of Broadway World’s Backstage with Richie Ridge, will moderate adiscussion with stars of the new Drama Desk– and Tony-nominated musical The Outsiders at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 31, at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Robin Williams Center (247 West 54th St., opposite Studio 54). Members of the Drama Desk are invited to attend. The doors will open at 1:30 p.m., and attendance is first come, first served. Latecomers may not be admitted.

Participants in the panel will be Drama Desk and Tony nominees director Danya Taymor and lead actor Brody Grant, along with Tony featured actor nominees Sky Lakota-Lynch and Joshua Boone. With music and lyrics by Justin Levine and a book by Levine and Adam Rapp, The Outsiders, is a nominee for both Drama Desk and Tony Awards for best musical, opened at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater on April 11, 2024.

SAG-AFTRA Foundation and BroadwayWorld have partnered for a filmed Conversations Q&A series to recognize and celebrate the vibrant theater community in New York City and the actors who aspire to have a career on the stage and screen.

If you would like to attend, please fill out the form here. Be sure to select the Non-member option.

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Off Broadway

Winesday The Wine Tasting Musical Opening Night

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Winesday: The Wine Tasting Musical, written by Jenne Wason (book and lyrics) and Joseph Benoit (music) and directed by Jamibeth Margolis with musical direction by Alec Bart, celebrated their opening night.

Shannen Hofheimer

Dawn Cantwell

Amanda Lea LaVergne

Debra Thais Evans

Michael Valvo

Jennifer Diamond

When these five wine-loving women get together every Wednesday night, they’re theoretically meeting for a book club or a yoga class, but really, they just want to indulge in wine and talk about their lives. It’s like Sex and the City meets the vineyard – including a friendly wine steward to guide the audience through the wine paired with each upcoming scene. Get ready for an intoxicating blend of friendship, wit, and wine that will leave your spirits lifted and your palate inspired.

Peter Breger

Christopher Devlin (Props Designer) and Grace Curley

Kimberly O’Loughlin (Sound Design)

Rob Diamond and Jennifer Diamond

Jamibeth Margolis (Director/Casting Director)

Jenne Wason (Book & Lyrics) and Jamibeth Margolis

Jenne Wason (Book & Lyrics)

Joseoh Benoit (Music) and Jenne Wason

Joseoh Benoit (Music)

The Band-Britton Matthews, Rick Snell and Alec Bart

Daniel Stanton

Michael Valvo, Daniel Stanton

Kathryn Eader (Lighting Designer) and Jenne Wason

Daniel Stanton and Merete Muenter (Associate Director/Movement Coordinator)

Performances will run through July 2024 at The Jerry Orbach Theater at The Theater Center (210 West 50 Street).

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Events

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Ashley Griffin and Danny Gardner

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We are so pleased to announce our guests this week are Director/ performer Ashley Griffin and Broadway’s Danny Gardner Join us Wednesday May 22nd at 5pm.

Ashley Griffin

Ashley Griffin is a Broadway writer/performer most well known as the first person in history to be nominated for a major award (New York Innovative Theater Award) for both playing and directing Hamlet (for a theatrical production.) As a writer Ashley’s work has been produced/developed at New World Stages, Manhattan Theater Club, Playwrights Horizons and more. Ashley received the WellLife Network Award and a county commendation for her Off-Broadway play Trial (directed by Lori Petty and heralded as “If this show were on Broadway it would win the Pulitzer” – Stagescore) which is currently in talks for a transfer. She has written extensively for film and T.V. and is the author of two bestselling novels, Blank Paige and The Spindle. As a performer, Ashley has appeared extensively on and Off-Broadway as well as in T.V. and film. Highlights include work at The Gershwin Theater, Lincoln Center, Playwrights Horizons, MTC and The Public Theater, as well as on The Greatest Showman and “Homeland.” She holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has trained at RADA, the National Theater and the Boston Conservatory. www.ashleygriffinofficial.com

Danny Gardner

Danny Gardner starred io Broadway Flying Over Sunset, A Christmas Carol and Dames At Sea. City Center Encores!: Dick Trevor in Lady, Be Good! (Subsequent Album). Radio City Music Hall: Dad / George M. Cohan in The NY Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes. His national tours include Here to Stay – The Gershwin Experience!, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and 42nd Street. Off-Broadway: Cheek To Cheek (The York Theater), Time Step (New Victory Theater), Room 17B and Everybody Gets Cake(59E59th Street Theaters). His regional theatre experience includes; Dial M For Murder (Geva Theater Center & Dallas Theatre Center), Bach At Leipzig (People’s Light and Theatre Company), Crazy For You (Signature Theatre), Singin’ in the Rain (Chicago’s Marriott Lincolnshire), Mary Poppins (Houston’s Theatre Under The Stars), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (John W. Engeman Theater). @dannyjgnyc, www.danny-gardner.com

These two are staring in a limited three-week engagement of The Opposite of Love presented by NewYorkRep May 28 through June 15 at Royal Family Performing Arts Space (145 W. 46th Street, NYC). The Opposite of Love is an intimate story about a down on his luck hustler and a trust fund baby who form an unlikely bond when she hires him to help overcome her sexual trauma. Can this unexpected connection transcend their darker inclinations in a world where love is a commodity? Directed by Rachel Klein (The Gospel According to Heather). Opening night is Thursday May 30 at 7PM. Tickets are now on sale at EventBrite.com.

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a show filmed at the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our past episodes; First episode click here second episode click here,  third episode click here, fourth episode click here, fifth episode click here, sixth episode here, seventh episode here, eighth episode here, ninth episode here, tenth episode here, eleventh episode here, our twelfth episode here, thirteenth episode here, fourteenth here and fifteenth here.

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