Anyone familiar with “Tapestry” knows that a musical about Carole King (played by Julia Knitel, pictured here; photo by Joan Marcus) will feature “Beautiful” songs. More lovely is Knitel’s performance. It’s warm and vulnerable as the songwriter auditions with “It Might as Well Rain Until September,” (adding “bloops” for raindrops), and blends strength and humility as Carole belts hits at Carnegie Hall: “You’ve Got a Friend,” “So Far Away” and “Natural Woman.”
The score takes us through the ‘60s and ‘70s with “The Locomotion,” “On Broadway,” and “We Gotta Get Out of this Place“ following the careers of Carole and her husband and lyricist Liam Tobin (played by Gerry Goffin), and their friends and rivals, Cynthia Weil (played by Erika Olson) and Barry Mann (played by Ben Fankhauser), who add laughs in the bursts of dialogue between songs. Sometimes numbers like “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” sparkle for the sake of sparkle, but they’re still moments that are “Beautiful.”
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is currently playing at the Aronoff Center for the Arts (650 Walnut St.) through May 14. Click here to purchase tickets.