By SUE SUCHYTA
The Tony and Grammy Award-winning production of “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” which runs through Jan. 8 at the Fisher Theater, 3011 West Grand Blvd. in Detroit, is so much more than an album musical – it is an emotionally rich story of a young woman and her music, and her triumphs and heartbreak.
In the first act, the musical follows Carole King the songwriter, a gutsy young girl with dreams, as she and her husband Gerry Goffin created hit songs for other artists. Then, as her personal life hands her heartache, she finds a way to rediscover herself, and begins to write and perform songs on her own, sharing those emotionally rich songs with the world that have become a part of many of our lives.
Part of the fun of the musical is playing a personal game of “Name that Tune” as the actress playing Carole King goes to the piano and plays a few notes, or sings a phrase, there is an “aha” moment when you recognize the tune, and you hear delighted murmurs from the house as others recognize not only the song, but experience a rush of memory that relates to a time, place and mood when that given song was part of the soundtrack of our lives.
Whether it’s a peppy dance tune, like “The Locomotion” or the soulful “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” written for other artists, or songs that bare her own soul, that she sang, like “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” “It’s Too Late,” and “Beautiful,” the songs evoke memories and emotions, and carry audiences through an emotional journey through songs that have been part our memories.
Her friendship and competition with songwriters Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann also brings some of their hits into the show, which include “On Broadway,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” and “Here You Come Again.”
Julia Knitel is amazing as Carole King, not only in playing her as a teen and a seasoned woman, but lending her amazing voice to the role.
Erika Olson as Cynthia Weil lights up the stage with her effervescence, and reminds one of Reese Witherspoon.
Kudos as well to actors Curt Bouril as Don Kirshner, Liam Tobin as Gerry Goffin, and Ben Fankhauser as Barry Mann.
The costumes are fantastic, and a time travel treat, a credit to costume designer Alejo Vietti.
Performances are 8 p.m. Dec. 20 to 23, 27 to 31, and Jan. 3 to 7; 6:30 p.m. Dec. 18 and Jan. 8; 2 p.m. Dec. 31 and Jan. 7; and 1 p.m. Dec. 18, 21, 27, 28 and Jan. 1 and 8.
To order tickets, call 800-982-2787 or go to broadwayindetroit.com or ticketmaster.com.
For more information about the show, go to BeautifulOnBroadway.com.
DAG PRESENTS DINNER THEATER AT SMOKIES
“Murder in Black and White” will combine the talents of the Downriver Actors Guild with the culinary pleasures of Smokies Restaurant & Bar and Smokies on the Water as the dinner theater runs at both Downriver locations.
Performances are at 7 p.m. The Jan. 27 show is at Smokies on the Water, 25555 W. River Road in Grosse Ile Township, with a Jan. 28 performance at Smokies Restaurant & Bar, 930 Biddle in Wyandotte.
The menu includes a choice of prime rib, perch or herb grilled chicken; choice of potato; soup or salad, and dessert. Drinks are sold separately.
Tickets are $40. To order, call 734-283-3228.
DEARBORN ACTORS IN ‘THE MISANTHROPE’
Dearborn actors Paul Vandevert, as Orante, and Valerie Mangrum Haas, as Arsinoe, have been cast in Barefoot Production’s “The Misanthrope.” The Moliere classic, translated by Richard Wilbur, is directed by Kirk Haas of Dearborn.
Mark Ripper of Northville plays Alceste, with Jessica Koloian of Plymouth as Celimene, JaAnna Platzer of Livonia as Philinte, and Kristen Campbell of Canton Township as Eliante.
Patrick Yee of Royal Oak plays Clintandre, with Beth Duey of Westland as Basque and Richard Pientak of Canton Township as Dubois.
Angry about the artifice and lies of his fellow man, Alceste rashly declared to speak only the truth, no matter how harsh. However, when he falls in love with a woman who is his opposite, he acquires a painful yet much needed perspective.
Barefoot Productions is at 240 N. Main, Plymouth.
The show runs 8 p.m. Feb. 17, 18, 24 and 25, and 2 p.m. Feb. 19 and 26. For tickets or more information, call 734-404-6886 or go to justgobarefoot.com.