By Lori Simmons Zelenko
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
The Soundtrack to a Generation
To get the inside track on Beautiful – The Carole King Musical the sure-to-be hit show about the chart-topping music legend, Millennium Magazine caught up with playwright Douglas McGrath (also an Academy® Award-nominated filmmaker.) “People think Carole King was born, learned to walk and recorded Tapestry.” Her chart-topping album held Billboard’s best-seller spot for twenty years selling 25 Million copies. Tapestry produced hits including (You make me feel like a) Natural Woman, I Feel The Earth Move and You’ve Got A Friend as it opened an authentic dialog with the listener and became a touchstone for American women coming of age in the early 1970s. “People don’t realize her whole life built towards creating that album,” McGrath reminds us. Brooklyn-born she followed her gift, “a natural ear for pop music,” pursuing her path in the music business with passion and chutzpah. “Her songs stay inside people. They’re real.” McGrath continues, “They have an infectious melodic quality.” Moving past the simplistic lyrics of the 1960s, she wrote songs with depth and meaning that became hits for some of the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll – Aretha Franklin, James Taylor, Laura Nyro, Blood Sweat and Tears to name just a few. But it wasn’t until her personal life began to crack that she finally discovered her true voice. “There is no anger in her music, the songs are about searching, exploring concepts that hadn’t been shared in pop music before,” adds McGrath. “Will You Love Me Tomorrow reveals a woman’s poignant, touching point of view even though Carole’s then husband, Gerry Goffin, wrote the lyrics and she wrote the music. The song poses a question, it doesn’t make a statement. And yes, it shadows her own life as her marriage is breaking up.” Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation. Beautiful – The Carole King Musical is in previews until opening night January 12, 2014 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre 124 West 43 Street, New York City. Tickets are available at beautifulonbroadway.com
THE SMASH HIT MUSICAL BY
HARVEY FIERSTEIN & CYNDI LAUPER
“Be yourself because everybody else is taken,” said Oscar Wilde. And so shares Lola (played on Broadway by Tony Award Winner Billy Porter) the fantastically compelling drag queen whose need for “kinky boots” in fact, sturdy stilettos, is the heart of the story for this exhilarating Broadway musical. Millennium Magazine took a moment to speak with choreographer and director Jerry Mitchell about the secrets to the show’s success. “We break the 4th wall all the time with this show.” Meaning the imaginary boundary between the actors and the audience is dissolved as the audience “trained” by the internet expects to interact with entertainment now. “Theatre was once a static piece. And the audience was content to listen to a 4-minute overture but not anymore. The story starts the moment the lights go out.” And the story of And the story of Kinky Boots is about an unlikely pair who learn as together they save a foundering shoe factory – and in the process discover their true selves – that when you change your mind about someone you can change your whole world. Strutting its stuff with out of the box creativity from the sets by David Rockwell to the “marriage” of playwright Harvey Fierstein and the memorable tunes by Cyndi Lauper making her debut as a Broadway composer, Kinky Boots is the result of a collaboration between friends, reveals Jerry Mitchell. “We all knew each other and the opportunity to work together, well that was just heaven sent! I saw the DVD of Kinky Boots (it was a movie, based on a true story) when I was doing the Full Monty in London. I thought to myself, you know this could be a musical. And eight years later, well, we opened on Broadway.” Irresistible fun, it’s impossible not to get in step with Kinky Boots.
Royal heir Pippin sets off on a magical adventure to find the meaning of life. As he searches, he’s led along by a mysterious group of performers embarking on a death-defying journey to find his “corner of the sky.” This revival of PIPPIN the musical fable with a beloved score by Stephen Schwartz (GODSPELL, WICKED) sets the story under the big top with acrobats (LES 7 DOIGTS DE LA MAIN, the creative force behind the nationwide sensation TRACES) soaring through air like the Flying Wallendas. Says Matthew James Thomas who plays Pippin, “Life is a circus…and this is a play about life.” Energizing and invigorating the acrobatics entertain and invite the audience to connect as one of the hits from the show’s memorable pop score says, “Journey to a spot exciting, mystic and exotic…We’ve got magic to do….Just for you.” Bob Fosse’s original choreography (the show was initially on Broadway for 2000 performances in 1972) was sleek and stylized. The style is referenced here but boosted with powerful modern athleticism. The fabulous Patina Miller (who won a Tony for her role as the lead player who guides Pippin on his journey) brings magic and mystery to her role as she steps in the shoes filled in the original by Ben Vereen (who also won a Tony) for her, she says, “It’s nonstop physical movement the entire show.” Keeping the audience on the edge of its seat (when its’ not jumping up for spontaneous standing ovations) PIPPIN poses the questions, ‘Will this young prince choose a happy but simple life? Or will he risk everything for a singular flash of glory?’
Go see PIPPIN to learn the answers. You’ll be joyously rewarded.
PIPPIN at the Music Box Theatre (239 West 45th Street) Tickets available at www.pippinthemusical.com