(PCM) Boy meets girl at a Brooklyn high school…and they change music history.
What sounds like an outlandish premise for a Broadway musical is actually true life because the girl was Carol Klein, who later became the music legend Carole King, and the boy was Gerry Goffin, her flawed mate and extremely talented lyricist.
All of this is the story behind “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” which will grace the Academy of Music Stage from Tuesday, March 22 to Sunday, April 3. It is the perfect way to usher in spring with some of our favorite pop songs and love ballads.
This is the first national tour of the smash Broadway musical about the early life and career of the legendary and groundbreaking singer/songwriter Carole King and fellow songwriters Gerry Goffin, Cynthia Weil, and Barry Mann.
“Beautiful features a stunning array of beloved songs that audiences will want to sing along to the whole evening,” said Anne Ewers, president & CEO of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
“Fans will learn so much about Carole King’s rise to stardom, as well the stories of her close friends and fellow songwriters that will show the genesis of some of their favorite songs,” she said.
The show opened on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in January 2014, where it has broken all box office records. The original Broadway cast recording of “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical,” (Ghostlight Records), won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
“Beautiful” features hit songs including, “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “You’ve Got A Friend.” The national tour stars Abby Mueller as Carole King and Liam Tobin as Gerry Goffin.
Mueller is the sister of Jesse Mueller who won a Tony Award for originating the role on Broadway. She has starred on Broadway in Kinky Boots, A Minister’s Wife, and numerous regional productions in her hometown of Chicago, including Into the Woods, The Fully Monty and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
At 26, Tobin, has an impressive list of credits. A native of Newfoundland, Canada, he played Tony in the International Tour of West Side Story, Alferd Packer in Trey Packer’s Cannibal the Musical and the Sound of Music in Toronto. In regional theater he played Lord Farquaad in “Shrek,” Buddy in “Elf” (The Grand), Lancelot in “Spamalot,” Joe Hardy in “Damn Yankees,” Lt. Cable in “South Pacific” (Drayton), Gabe in “Next to Normal” (Manitoba Theatre Centre), Link in “Hairspray” (Charlottetown), and Joseph in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
Q: Did you do much research into the music?
LIAM TOBIN: I grew up listening to Carole King’s “Tapestry” album through my mom’s love for it. I was attracted to the great story and of course, the great music in the show.
Q: What about research into the real Gerry Goffin?
LT: When you are playing a real person and not a fictional person there are considerations. I watched a few clips that our director had of Carole and Gerry at the piano and I saw how they would interact, so that was invaluable. I really wanted to stay true to the spirit of all of the characters. But in the end, you have to inject a bit of yourself to make it realistic because you don’t want to do an impersonation.
Q: Tell me about your leading lady, Abby Mueller.
LT: Abby has a wonderful voice and a real vulnerability — both when she is on stage and when she is off stage. We get along super well. It is really nice to share the stage every day with someone who is a good buddy – she truly brings the house down for this show!
Q: Tell me about the tour.
LT: We started rehearsing in New York in August and opened the show in mid-September and have been going ever since.
Q: Where and when will your family and friends see the show?
LT: Some of them saw it in Providence and Chicago during Christmas, others will see it next summer in Toronto, a three-hour flight from St. John’s Newfoundland.
Q: Where are you based?
Q: Tell me about the early years, the details of becoming an actor.
LT: I had a group of friends one summer who were in a community theater production of Peter Pan when we were in 9th grade. I kept coming to rehearsal and loved what I saw. I auditioned for the next show, Beauty and the Beast, and was hooked. I was in the ensemble playing a candlestick and a fork at one point and I remember that I had the time of my life. I felt that if I could make a living doing this I didn’t see how I could do anything else. So I took it from there. I always gravitated to the rehearsal room.
LT: Theater changes people and brings out all sorts of magic. I had never had so much fun as I did with those eccentric, crazy actors.
Q: Which musicals do you love?
LT: I love them all. Musicals have always seemed to speak to me. But this one in particular is a little different from a traditional musical. Most of the songs are performances instead of furthering the plot per se. So we say, ‘Hey is our new song let me play it for you.’
Q: What is life on the road like – the good, the bad and the ugly?
LT: It’s really great. I get to see the whole country. We’ve had some short stays and some long stays. I like that ever week you get to explore a whole new town or a diff part of the country. We try new restaurants and museums.
Q: Is there any down side?
LT: Sure. Living in a hotel without a kitchen can get a little frustrating, because sometimes I want to make my own food. It’s also hard to be away from family, but you do get a surrogate family of sorts. I’ve made some new, amazing close friends.
Q: Is every show different?
LT: Yes. We get different reactions from various audiences. It is interesting to see what jokes they react to.
Q: What are you doing on the road when you are not rehearsing or performing?
LT: I got my pilot’s license this past summer; it’s a big hobby of mine. I love to hop on a plane and do some sightseeing.
Q: How long did it take you to become a pilot?
LT: Four months — all day, every day. I managed to get it done before I moved to New York for rehearsals. It is something I always wanted to do if I had the time, so I figured if not now then when would I do it?
Q: Anything else you enjoy?
LT: I love to read. I play video games so I brought my X-Box on the road with me. I am an avid guitar player. Luckily, these are things you can still do on the road to stay sane.
Q: Is there anyone in the family who is an actor or performer?
LT: Nope. I am the lone one.
Q: What do your siblings do?
LT: I have two older sisters – one is an accountant and the other is in sales with a tech company.
Q: Could you have pursued this brilliant career without family support?
LT: No, not at all. It was something they weren’t familiar with, but they were always in my corner. They always come out to do every show I do. I love having my family around. It is rare these days being around to get to see them; it’s quite a treat
Q: Do you have favorite musicals?
LT: I played Tony in a tour of West Side Story in Europe in 2012 for two and a half years. I was able to see most of Europe during the tour. There was a giant orchestra. I remember this one time in Naples, Italy when we had a 40 piece orchestra – so we were very spoiled with our band
Q: Are there musicals you are hankering to do?
LT: I’ve always wanted to be Cinderella’s prince and the wolf in Into the Woods – I thought that would be fun. I saw the movie and thought it was one of the better versions of a movie musical that has been around for a while.
Q: Do you think there will be a movie of “Beautiful: The Carol King Musical?”
LT: I’m not sure. If they have plans to make it, they haven’t told me.
Q: What are your favorite songs in this show?
LT: I love “Up on the Roof,” and I get to sing a little bit of it and then see the guys The Drifters do their version. I also love to watch them sing “On Broadway” from the wings. It is high energy, it sounds great and the guys are fun to watch. I love the arrangement of “You’ve Got a Friend.” You really can’t stop humming everything – there is not a bad tune in the whole show.
Q: How do you see your character of Gerry? Do you judge his mistakes as a husband?
LT: It is difficult to play a man if you were to judge him like that. I believe that Gerry was at his heart a good person. Yes, he made mistakes. He wanted to be a great husband, father, and friend but he couldn’t seem to do that and he spiraled further down the rabbit hole. The way I tried to play Gerry was not as a villain per se, but more of a kind of a troubled guy who is trying to make his life work out the way he saw it happening, but can’t seem to make the pieces fit together.
Q: How do you see your future – 5 or 10 years from now?
LT: Who knows? Hey, who wouldn’t want to be on Broadway? I couldn’t say. Because if you asked me five years ago. I’m not sure what kind of answer I would have given you. So I try to let things unfold. I also try not to put a whole lot of pressure on myself.
For additional information, please visit www.BeautifulOnBroadway.com.
For tickets go to The Kimmel Center Box Office: Call the Box Office at: 215 893-1999, or visit www.kimmelcenter.org. For group sales or 10 or more call (215) 790-5883.