Beau­ti­ful ap­pear­ance

Ca­role King shows up as her­self in Broad­way bio

The Western Star - - OBITUARIES/ENTERTAINMENT - BY BROOKE LEF­FERTS

Any­thing can hap­pen in live theatre, and au­di­ence mem­bers see­ing “Beau­ti­ful,” the life story of Ca­role King, got a sur­prise when King ap­peared in the role of her­self to cel­e­brate the show’s fifth an­niver­sary on Broad­way.

The packed house at the Stephen Sond­heim Theatre erupted into thun­der­ous cheers and ap­plause as King ap­peared Satur­day night, sit­ting at a baby grand pi­ano and show­ing all the love in her heart as she sang “Beau­ti­ful,” the fi­nal song.

“It’s kind of mirac­u­lous that this show has lasted for five years be­cause not many do. And it’s a tes­ta­ment to, I think, peo­ple say the mu­sic ... but the book is so good and the di­rec­tion and the light­ing and the sets. It’s re­ally a well put to­gether pro­duc­tion,” King said in an in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press after the show.

She has sung on­stage dur­ing cur­tain calls dur­ing the show’s long run but has never ap­peared in the show it­self.

In the show’s fi­nal scene — set dur­ing her fa­mous 1971 Carnegie Hall con­cert — the 76-year-old King played a much younger ver­sion of her­self as she took over for Chilina Kennedy, who re­cently re­turned to the Broad­way pro­duc­tion of “Beau­ti­ful” after play­ing the King role in the North Amer­i­can tour.

King and the cast then per­formed the show’s en­core num­ber, “I Feel the Earth Move,” at the cur­tain call as the au­di­ence danced and clapped along. The singer-song­writer held hands with Kennedy as the two took sev­eral bows and ac­cepted flow­ers from the cast.

“Ev­ery­one con­nected with this show will agree that the peo­ple we have to thank the most are you, the au­di­ences; please give your­selves a hand,” King told the au­di­ence, a sea of cell­phones snap­ping pic­tures.

“It’s thanks to you, you who have come once ... twice, three times,” she said. “I hear from peo­ple who’ve brought friends, fam­ily and shared the joy and shared the love, and it’s amaz­ing.

“So if you keep do­ing that, you never know when I might show up again,” she joked.

Among the au­di­ence mem­bers was Chuck Schumer, the U.S. se­na­tor from New York, who waved to the crowd and ges­tured thumbs up as he ex­ited the theatre. “CBS This Morn­ing” an­chor Gayle King was also at the show and said it was her fourth time see­ing it.

“I love it. I love her,” she said. “I still have my ‘Ta­pes­try’ al­bum.”

“Beau­ti­ful” is based on King’s life from when she was a teenage song­writer in New York, to her time as wife, mother and au­thor of scores of rec­og­niz­able songs. The show fea­tures a col­lec­tion of fa­mous pop mu­sic, writ­ten by King and her ex-hus­band Gerry Gof­fin, as well as Barry Mann and Cyn­thia Weil, in­clud­ing the clas­sics “You’ve Got a Friend,” “One Fine Day,” “Up on the Roof,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feel­ing” and “Nat­u­ral Woman.”

King called see­ing her­self played as a char­ac­ter on­stage “sur­real” but said she is pleased the show has had such longevity.

“Beau­ti­ful” opened on Broad­way on Jan. 13, 2014, and won the 2014 Tony Award for best ac­tress in a mu­si­cal for Jessie Mueller; the 2015 Grammy Award for best mu­si­cal theatre al­bum; and two 2015 Olivier Awards, Bri­tain’s ver­sion of the Tonys. Pro­duc­tions have played in Lon­don, Ja­pan and Aus­tralia and toured the United King­dom. The North Amer­i­can tour is cel­e­brat­ing its third an­niver­sary of sold-out runs and is cur­rently play­ing at Philadel­phia’s Academy of Mu­sic.

When pro­duc­ers came to her to sug­gest she ap­pear in the last scene to mark the show’s an­niver­sary, King said, she did not hes­i­tate.

“I to­tally en­vi­sioned that mo­ment, and it was a thou­sand times more than I had imag­ined,” King told the AP.

“I love watch­ing peo­ple come and see them for­get about their cares and trou­bles for two hours and 40 min­utes,” she said. “It’s a won­der­ful feel­ing.”

AP PHOTO

Ca­role King, third from right, poses for pho­tos with the cast of “Beau­ti­ful: The Ca­role King Mu­si­cal” at the Stephen Sond­heim Theatre after a per­for­mance in New York on Satur­day.

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