Loaded with Legendary Music and Lots of Heart, DPAC's "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" is a Can't-Miss Hit
Beautiful: The Carol King Musical returns to the Durham Performing Arts Center May 7-12 for eight performances, as a WRAL Greatest Hits of Broadway encore
DPAC’s production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical opens with the legend herself…or at least Sarah Bockel’s very close rendering of her….seated at a piano and belting out “So Far Away.” This is the first of many hits that will come through in this empowering, Grammy-award-winning musical, directed by Marc Bruni and backed by Bockel’s endearing performance.
The musical, which spans 1958 to 1971 and all of King’s illustrious career as a songwriter and, eventually, a performer herself, features almost every bit of important music spanning those periods. Every hit from “Be-Bop-A-Lula” to “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “The Locomotion” gets its moment in this production, delighting audience members who grow up with these sounds, as well as those who are discovering them for the first time.
And, just as Carole’s life changes and progresses, the impressive rolling set keeps the story moving. Set pieces drift out effortlessly, allowing the story to flow in much the same way. Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t some bumpy moments in King’s story, and none of them are glossed-over in this honest, true-to-life musical. For, behind the glitz and glamour (and there’s plenty of that in the larger-than-life musical numbers), this production is not afraid to show the gritty truths of Carole’s life.
The story follows her elation at winning the wandering eye of husband and musical partner Gerry Goffin (Dylan S. Wallach), as well as all the sadness, heartache, and ultimate triumph that enter her life after. Bockel makes for a perfect Carole, easily showcasing a wide range of emotions (and looks!) that make her believable both as the sixteen year old King and the much older, wiser, and sure-of-herself version. Bockel especially nails King’s trademark throaty voice and Brooklyn accent. Also strong here is Alison Whitehurst’s spunky, totally likeable performance as Cynthia Weil, a woman who will become one of Carole’s strongest confidantes and most fierce competitors. Whitehurst, in turn, is backed by Jacob Heimer’s sweet, comedic portrayal of Barry Mann.
Following these well fleshed-out characters and effectively showing what went on behind the scenes of some of America’s greatest musical hits, this show also has fun with the bravado and showmanship of the times. Many renditions of much-loved musical groups are offered up, complete with all the flashing lights, stomping choreography, and extravagant costumes every theatre-goer wants to see.
A sing-along good time with lots of heart and a message about finding beauty where it matters most- within-, DPAC’s Beautiful lives up to its name.
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