Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

“Beautiful” Offers Up Feel-Good Fun

Abby Mueller plays singer/songwriter Carole King, performing at Carnegie Hall (photo by Joan Marcus)

Abby Mueller plays singer/songwriter Carole King (photo by Joan Marcus)

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, onstage now at DPAC under the direction of Marc Bruni, opens with the legendary singer and songwriter, Carole King, performing to a packed house at Carnegie Hall, but the story quickly moves backwards, back to a time when Carole was only a precocious sixteen year old with big dreams and determination.

It is this young Carole and her rocky journey to the top that Beautiful chronicles, and it’s a very fun ride. Abby Mueller plays both the younger and older versions of Carole, and she does so beautifully and endearingly, effectively capturing younger-Carole’s youthful charm and energy, as well as older-Carole’s struggles and, ultimately, inner strength.

The story, which spans a large chunk of King’s life is told through dialogue and, of course, songs, many of which audience members will be surprised to find are written (or at least co-written) by King. Upbeat (mostly) music and skilled choreography by Josh Prince move the production along smoothly and enjoyably. While there are some sad moments in King’s story, this re-telling of her life relays them all with just the right touch of humor and honesty.

While much of the play focuses on King’s difficult relationship with her husband and fellow songwriter, Gerry Goffin (Liam Tobin), as well as her fortuitous friendships with songwriters and rivals Cynthia Weil (Becky Gulsvig) and Barry Mann (Ben Fankhauser), the real story here- the one that is at the heart of this show- is that of an underdog who rises to the top and who learns to love and value herself. It is an empowering story of self-discovery, one that rings true and that has the power to inspire viewers from all walks of life.

Abby Mueller and Liam Tobin star as Carole King and her songwriting partner and husband, Gerry Goffin (photo by Joan Marcus)

Abby Mueller and Liam Tobin star as Carole King and her songwriting partner and husband, Gerry Goffin (photo by Joan Marcus)

Featuring “cameos” from all kinds of popular groups from the 60s and 70s and some of the best era-specific costumes and sets, this smooth-running, fast-paced show offers up a lot of feel-good fun. It’s definitely worth a watch!

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING STORY at 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1, 8 p.m. Oct. 2, 2 and 8 p.m. Oct. 3, 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at 123 Vivian Street, Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.

TICKETS: $40.90-$185.22, including fees. (For Special Offers, click here.)


DPAC Box Office: 919-680-2787 or

Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or

GROUP RATES (15 + tickets): 919-281-0587,, or

SHOW: and






Carole King (songwriter and singer): (official website), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (2013 San Francisco, 2014 Broadway, and 2015 West End musical): (official Broadway website), (official West End website), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Douglas McGrath (book): (Internet Broadway Database), (Wikipedia).


Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click To read more of her writings, click and

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews