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Carole King's "Beautiful" Comes To The Smith Center


Joan Marcus

Julie Knitel, seen here at the piano, plays "Carole" in the musical "Beautiful," which tells the story of singer/songwriter and musical icon Carole King's life.

Like many listeners, the music of Carole King is a staple in my household, and in my musical repertoire.

“You’ve Got a Friend” was the first song I ever played with my twins. “Tapestry” is one of the few albums that made it from my vinyl collection to CD to my iPod.

And King, herself, has been an inspiration as she has forged a lasting and profound career in an industry where singer/songwriters are almost extinct, and women make up far too few of their numbers.

So, I’m pleased to see the Broadway show, "Beautiful" – a musical using Ms. King’s songs to tell the story of her life – land in Las Vegas, with a run at the Smith Center through October 2.

“Every single night you have to sort of wipe the slate clean and really start from a young, innocent, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed place into someone who has seen it and has felt pain,” said Julie Knitel the actress who plays "Carole."

Knitel said she prepared for the role by reading King's memoir and watching another actress in the same role. Beyond that, it was really the icon's music that instructed her. 

“I did a lot of listening to her music, which is easy to do,” she said.

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However, she had to be cautious not to mimic King's legendary voice.

“There are ways to hint at her and really try to embody her as much as you can while still having your own voice,” she said.

Suzanne Grodner plays "Genie," Carole's mother. She says King's music is integral to the plot, especially her ground breaking album "Tapestry."

"For the first time, she decides to sing her own music," she said, "The whole first part of the show is her becoming a musician and then you see what comes to fruition with her becoming Carole King, the Carole King that everybody knows and loves."

Knitel said the play gives the audience new understanding of that album. 

“Everybody fell in love with “Tapestry” on its own and had their own meaning for all of the songs and now you have a whole new fresh perspective and you know that these songs stemmed out of a really tough time in somebody’s life that we all love,” she said. 

From the NPR archive: For Carole King, Songwriting Is A 'Natural' Talent 


Julia Knitel, "Carole"; Suzanne Grodner, "Genie," Carole's mother

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