PHOTO EXCLUSIVE: A Two-Show Day at Beautiful: The Carole King Musical With Anika Larsen
By Matthew Blank
Anika Larsen (Xanadu, Avenue Q) is back on Broadway as Cynthia Weil in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. She shares a recent two-show day at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, the new stage production that stars Tony Award nominee Jessie Mueller as the Grammy Award-winning musician whose Brooklyn roots would lead to the soundtrack of a generation, officially opened on Broadway Jan. 12 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.
Based on King's life and music, Beautiful had its world premiere earlier this season at San Francisco's Curran Theatre, where it ended its run Oct. 20. The Broadway production began previews Nov. 21.
Blake and Sony/ATV Music Publishing produce the musical that features a book by Academy Award nominee Douglas McGrath, who collaborated with Woody Allen on the screenplay for "Bullets Over Broadway." He also penned "Infamous" and "Emma."
Marc Bruni (Pipe Dream, Ordinary Days, Old Jews Telling Jokes) stages the production with choreography by Josh Prince and musical direction by Jason Howland.
Tony Award nominee Jessie Mueller (Mystery of Edwin Drood, On a Clear Day, Nice Work If You Can Get It) stars as King. Appearing as her musical collaborators are Jake Epstein ("Degrassi," Spider-Man) as Gerry Goffin, Anika Larsen (Xanadu, Avenue Q) as Cynthia Weil and Jarrod Spector (Jersey Boys) as Barry Mann. The musical's score comprises songs King penned with Goffin, Mann and Weil.
Principal casting also includes Jeb Brown as producer/publisher Don Kirshner and Liz Larsen as King's mother, Genie Klein.
The ensemble features Ashley Blanchet, E. Clayton Cornelious, Joshua Davis, Alysha Deslorieux, Kevin Duda, Carly Hughes, Sara King, Rebecca LaChance, Douglas Lyons, Chris Peluso, Gabrielle Reid, Arbender Robinson, Rashidra Scott, Sara Shepard and Melvin Tunstall.
"I knew the music, but not terribly well," Mueller confessed in a recent Playbill interview. "I feel I knew her music more through James Taylor." Taylor, a friend of King's, had a hit with King's song "You've Got a Friend." "My father loved James Taylor. I knew her music through him, not knowing what it was. I think it's the same experience that the audience goes through in the first part of the show. 'Oh, she wrote that? She wrote that? She wrote that?'"
The complete creative team includes Derek McLane (set design), Alejo Vietti (costume design), Peter Kaczorowski (lighting design), Brian Ronan (sound design), Charles G. LaPointe (wig and hair design), Steve Sidwell (orchestrations and music arrangements), Jason Howland (music supervision) and John Miller (music coordination).
Here's how the creators bill the musical: "Long before she was Carole King, chart-topping music legend, she was Carol Klein, Brooklyn girl with passion and chutzpah. She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and, by the time she reached her twenties, had the husband of her dreams and a flourishing career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock 'n' roll. But it wasn't until her personal life began to crack that she finally managed to find her true voice. Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of King's remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation."For tickets, visit telecharge.com, or phone (212) 239-6200. The Stephen Sondheim Theatre is located at 124 West 43 Street.
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