Review: Beautiful (Broadway in Chicago, 2017)

| December 11, 2017

Sarah Bockel stars as Carole King singing Natural Woman in Beautiful, Broadway in Chicago            


Book by Douglas McGrath
By Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Cynthia Weil,
     Barry Mann and Douglas McGrath 
Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph (map)
thru Jan 28  |  tix: $30-$115  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets     


Carole King, and her music, lives on


Sarah Bockel stars as Carole King at Carnegie Hall in Beautiful, Broadway in Chicago

Broadway in Chicago presents
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

Review by Duane Barnes

Lights! Action! Music! With that beginning, Carole King (local actress Sarah Bockel) takes us on a musical ride through her life, highs and lows, wins and losses, loving and losing. Her voice, singing most of the songs she wrote for others, for herself, the ones that topped the charts, carries a major part of the show. The supporting cast, wonderful talent all, fills the theatre with the remainder of her melodies. The audience gets everything they came to see and hear.

Jacob Heimer  and Sarah Goeke star as Barry Mann  and Cynthia Weil in Beautiful, Broadway ChicagoTo give creativity its due, several rounds of applause have to go to the scenic design crew, headed by Derek McLane, which seamlessly moves us from an apartment in Brooklyn, to a music “factory” where budding songwriters ply their trade, to the head office for the Boss man who decides what are “hits” and what don’t make it, to living rooms, back to the “factory”, even a lovely getaway home in New England, all moving as smooth as a Nat Cole vocal.   The light crew, led by Peter Kaczorowski, also lends so much to this production, adding to the drama, supporting the highs and lows, the laughing and the crying, and does it in such a way that the audience is impacted but probably not aware of it, so subtly is it done.

Ms. Bockel as Carole greets the audience with a song then takes us back to the beginning of her career as a song-struck teen-ager, arguing with her Jewish Mom, Mrs. Klein (Suzanne Grodner) about being a teacher or a songwriter. Mom loses (but she tosses off some great one-liners) and Carole begins her journey. In succession, she meets her boss-to-be, Don Kirchner (James Clow), the nicest boss ever, who cajoles, supports and honors his army of songwriters. As they’re going through initial introductions, they’re interrupted by Gerry Goffin (Andrew Brewer) and Carole gets stars in her eyes. Yep, it’s love at first sight – but it won’t be easy.

James Clow, Andrew Brewer, Sarah Bockel, Jacob Heimer and Sarah Goeke star in Beautiful, Broadway ChicagoSarah Bockel and Andrew Brewer star as Carole King and Gerry Goffin in Beautiful, Broadway in Chicago Sarah Bockel stars as Carole King at Carnegie Hall in Beautiful, Broadway in Chicago 3Kristopher Stanley Ward, Josh A. Dawson, Avery Smith and Jay McKenzie star as The Drifters in BeautifulTraci Elaine Lee, McKynleigh Alden Abraham, Alexis Tidwell and Ximone Rose star as The Shirelles in Beautiful

Enter Cynthia Weil (Sarah Goeke) and Barry Mann (Jacob Heimer), she quick-witted and lovely, he quick-witted and feisty. Teaming up, they become friendly competitors with Carole and Gerry. And as songs constantly issue from their pens and typewriters, we’re treated to TV days gone by as musical groups of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, The Drifters, The Shirelles and The Righteous Brothers, smoothly present the songs with the well-synced but dated choreography of those times, which will take oldsters back to their dating days. In contrast, when Carole stands up for herself in a heated scene with her husband, the younger women in the audience, possibly influenced by the #MeToo generation, voices their support and approval.

It’s a wonderful evening of familiar music, excellent performances, stellar scenes and lighting, all successfully created to delight the audiences’ eyes and ears. And Carole King lives on.

Rating: ★★★★

Beautiful continues through January 28th at Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph (map), with performances Tuesdays at 7:30pm, Wednesdays 2pm & 7:30pm, Thursdays & Fridays 7:30pm, Saturdays 2pm & 8pm, Sundays 2pm   Tickets are $30-$115, and are available by phone (800-775-2000) or online through (check for availability of half-price tickets). More information at time: 2 hours 30 minutes, includes an intermission)

The Locomotion from Beautiful the Carole King Musical, Broadway in Chicago

Photos by Matthew Murphy 




Sarah Bockel (Carole King), Andrew Brewer (Gerry Goffin), Sarah Goeke (Cynthia Weil), Jacob Heimer (Barry Mann), James Clow (Don Kirshner), Suzanne Grodner (Genie Klein), McKynleigh Alden Abraham, Josh A Dawson, John Michael Dias, Matt Faucher, Traci Elaine Lee, Marla Loissaint, Jay McKenzie, Dimitri Joseph Moise, Aashley Morgan, Elena Ricardo, Avery Smith, Alexis Tidwell, Kristopher Stanley Ward (ensemble), Jordan Edwin André, TyNia René Brandon, Kaylee Harwood, Willie Hill, Alia Hodge, James Michael Lambert, Caliaf St. Aubyn (swings)


Susan Draus (conductor, keyboard), Nick Williams, Jon Rose (keyboards, associate conductor), Larry Steppler (drums), Tim Morey (guitar 1), Tim Burke (trumpet, flugelhorn), Andy Baker (tenor & bass trombone), Steve Leinheiser (reed 1), Paul McGinley (reed 2), Tim Morey, Tom Logan (guitars), Michael Keefe (keyboard 3), Larry Kohut (bass), Jeff Handley (percussion)

behind the scenes

Marc Bruni (director), Josh Prince (choreographer), Jason Howland (music supervision, additional music), Derek Mclane (scenic design), Alejo Vietti (costume design), Peter Kaczorowski (lighting design), Brian Ronan (sound design), Stephen Kopel (casting), Charles G.  LaPointe (wig and hair design), Joe Dulude II (make-up design), Juniper Street Productions (production manager), Steve Sidwell (orchestrations, vocal and music arrangements), Sherry Kondor, Christine Russell (executive producers), John Miller (music coordinator), Susan Draus (music director), Shelley Butler (associate director), Joyce Chittick (associate choreographer), Eric Sprosty (production stage manager), Joel Rosen (stage manager), Shana Ferguson (asst. stage manager), Stephen Gabis (dialect coach), Neuro Tour (physical therapy), Charlotte Wilcox Company (general manager), Erica Hemminger (associate scenic design), Traci Elaine Lee (dance captain), Brandon McNeel, Ingrid Larson (scenic assistants), Rory Powers (associate costume design), John Viesta (asst. lighting design), Josh Weitzman (moving light programmer), Cody Spencer (associate sound design), Liz Printz (associate wig & hair design), Gretchen Androsavich (asst. wig & hair design), Fred Gallo (production carpenter), Elan Bustin (head carpenter), JJ Jordan (flyman), Nick Anthony (deck automation), Glenn Calhoun (head props), Mike Pilipski (production propmaster), Tom Perrin (asst. props), Billy Jay Stein, Hiro Iida (electronic music design), Jennifer Coolbaugh (asst. music coordinator), Tim Burke (local music coordinator), Matthew Murphy (photos)

James Clow, Jacob Heimer, Sarah Bockel and Sarah Goeke star in Beautiful, Broadway in ChicagoSarah Bockel stars as Carole King at Carnegie Hall in Beautiful, Broadway in Chicago 2


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Category: 2017 Reviews, Broadway in Chicago, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Duane Barnes, Musical, National Tours

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