The unlikely hit of the 2014 Broadway season and its chart topping cast album lives up to its name. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical fits in to the often maligned category of the so-called jukebox musical. What sets it apart from other shows in the genre is the iconic music of Carole King and the absorbing story of her 50-year career, beginning at age 17, penning legendary songs for countless celebrated entertainers before carving out a solo career with her classic 1971 release of Tapestry. Nominated for multiple Tony Awards including those for Jarrod Spector (Jersey Boys), and Anika Larsen (Xanadu), the show is commandingly anchored by the mesmeric Jessie Mueller as King. Mueller doesn’t simply mimic or emulate King –she embodies her. Her vocals recreate King’s unique style yet, as evidenced by the title song and “Natural Woman,” Mueller is a tour de force, in a class of her own. King’s songs have the ability to stop time and transcend generations. Jessie Mueller captivates and enchants as so few could in a recording that is, in fact, beautiful.[rating:3.5] -Kyle Poluyko
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