King sur­prises Broad­way crowd with ‘Beau­ti­ful’ cameo

Houston Chronicle - - NEWS MAKERS - By Brooke Lef­ferts

NEW YORK — Any­thing can hap­pen in live theater, 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.

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 theater. “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 ex­hus­band, 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.


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