Thursday, January 19, 2017

CT Theater Review: Beautiful -- The Bushnell


Curt Bouril, Liam Tobin, Julia Knitnel, Ben Fankhauser and Erika Olson,. Photo: Joan Marcus
Beautiful
Words and Music by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil
Book by Douglas McGrath
Directed by Marc Bruni
The Bushnell
Through Jan. 22

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
The story of music legend Carole King (Julia Knitel).  Book writer Douglas McGrath does a superb job of linking the highlights of King's life and the up-and-down relationship with husband  Gerry Goffin (Liam Tobin) with the music. Also featured is the couple's friendship with their songwriting competition team of Barry Mann (Ben Franhauser) and Cynthia Weil (Erika Olsen) and choreography by Josh Prince. This is not your ordinary jukebox musical.

What Are the highlights?
This is a top notch tour featuring a terrific Knitel, who understudied the role for a year on Broadway, where Jesse Meuller won a Tony for her portrayal and where the show still runs. Strong vocals across the board and a great sense of timing that makes all of the jokes hit just right. If you are a fan of the music of these artists, don't miss this show. You might be amazed, like I was, to discover how many rock and roll standards King composed.

What Are the Lowlights?
As usual, the mix in Mortensen Hall isn't quite right (either too loud or masking solos) and for small ensemble numbers, particularly. We don't get all the pleasure we should out of the Drifters or the Shirelles.

More information:
Beautiful runs through Jan. 22 at The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford. Shows are Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 2 and 8 pm and Sunday at 1:30 and 6 pm. Tickets are $44.50 to $132.50 bushnell.org; 860-987-5900.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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