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Loaded with Legendary Music and Lots of Heart, the Durham Performing Arts Center’s Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Is a Can’t-Miss Hit

Sarah Bockel plays Carole King performing at Carnegie Hall (photo by Joan Marcus)

Sarah Bockel plays Carole King performing at Carnegie Hall (photo by Joan Marcus)

DPAC’s production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical opens with the legend herself…or at least Sarah Bockel’s very close rendering of her … seated at a piano and belting out “So Far Away.” This is the first of many hits that will come through in this empowering, Grammy-award-winning musical, directed by Marc Bruni and backed by Bockel’s endearing performance.

The musical, which spans 1958 to 1971 and all of King’s illustrious career as a songwriter and, eventually, a performer herself, features almost every bit of important music spanning those periods. Every hit from “Be-Bop-A-Lula” to “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “The Locomotion” gets its moment in this production, delighting audience members who grow up with these sounds, as well as those who are discovering them for the first time.

And, just as Carole’s life changes and progresses, the impressive rolling set keeps the story moving. Set pieces drift out effortlessly, allowing the story to flow in much the same way. Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t some bumpy moments in King’s story, and none of them are glossed-over in this honest, true-to-life musical. For, behind the glitz and glamour (and there’s plenty of that in the larger-than-life musical numbers), this production is not afraid to show the gritty truths of Carole’s life.

The cast of <em>Beautiful</em> includes (from left) Sarah Bockel as Carole King, Alison Whitehurst as Cynthia Weil, Jacob Heimer as Barry Mann, and Dylan S. Wallach as Gerry Goffin (photo by Joan Marcus)

The cast of Beautiful includes (from left) Sarah Bockel as Carole King, Alison Whitehurst as Cynthia Weil, Jacob Heimer as Barry Mann, and Dylan S. Wallach as Gerry Goffin (photo by Joan Marcus)

The story follows her elation at winning the wandering eye of husband and musical partner Gerry Goffin (Dylan S. Wallach), as well as all the sadness, heartache, and ultimate triumph that enter her life after. Bockel makes for a perfect Carole, easily showcasing a wide range of emotions (and looks!) that make her believable both as the sixteen year old King and the much older, wiser, and sure-of-herself version. Bockel especially nails King’s trademark throaty voice and Brooklyn accent. Also strong here is Alison Whitehurst’s spunky, totally likeable performance as Cynthia Weil, a woman who will become one of Carole’s strongest confidantes and most fierce competitors. Whitehurst, in turn, is backed by Jacob Heimer’s sweet, comedic portrayal of Barry Mann.

Following these well fleshed-out characters and effectively showing what went on behind the scenes of some of America’s greatest musical hits, this show also has fun with the bravado and showmanship of the times. Many renditions of much-loved musical groups are offered up, complete with all the flashing lights, stomping choreography, and extravagant costumes every theatre-goer wants to see.

A sing-along good time with lots of heart and a message about finding beauty where it matters most- within-, DPAC’s Beautiful lives up to its name.

The North American Tour cast of <em>Beautiful</em> performs "The Locomotion" (photo by Joan Marcus)

The North American Tour cast of Beautiful performs “The Locomotion” (photo by Joan Marcus)

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL at 7:30 p.m. May 8 and 9, 8 p.m. May 10, 2 and 8 p.m. May 11, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. May 12 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.

TICKETS: $34.50 and up, plus taxes and fees. Click here to enter the digital lottery for $30 tickets.


DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787),, or

Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or

GROUP RATES (12+ tickets): 919/281-0587,, or

SHOW: and



THE TOUR: and–500924.





NOTE: There will be an open-captioned performance at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 9th; and Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 8 p.m. Saturday, May 11th, performance. Guests with a disabilities can find more information by clicking DPAC’s accessibility page.


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), (Internet Movie Database), and (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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