Carole King wouldn’t come to the opening night of “Beautiful,” a musical based on her life and classic songs. She finally did see the show, of course, after her absence became a news peg. She loved it, ‘natch. Tonight she’ll be in the audience at the Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall, of course. There’s no doubt she’ll make it onto the stage if “Beautiful” wins Best Musical. At the very least, King should be pleased if any of the actors from the show win their categories, Jessie Mueller especially.
“Beautiful” is not a “new” musical like “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” But it is a great musical because of the songs. King wrote most of the hits in the show other than a few other classics by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. King’s songs from that era were largely collaborations with Gerry Goffin, her husband for almost a decade. They made such a great team that when the Beatles came to America they said they wanted to be like Goffin and King. They assumed King was a man.
As a composer and a musician, few can stand up to Carole King. She wrote the music. And while Goffin’s lyrics are soulful and touching, it’s the melodies that have kept her catalog going. King won the Gershwin prize a few years ago. She deserved it. And not just for those “Beautiful” hits and “Tapestry.” She has a whole batch of hits that aren’t even covered in the musical, and could be woven into their own show.