“You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart. Then people gonna treat you better. You’re gonna find, yes you will, that you’re beautiful as you feel.”
Inspired by the true story of Carole King, Beautiful: Andrew BrewerThe Carole King Musical follows King’s remarkable rise to stardom as part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin and fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann prior to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, King made more than just beautiful music. She contributed to the soundtrack of a generation.
The FSCJ Artist Series presents Beautiful: The Carole King Musical April 10–15 at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. Beautiful traces the peaks and valleys of the storied career of a hopeful young songwriter who becomes part of a well-known collective of artists, all vying for the next number one hit. The production also peeks at her life behind the curtain and the pain that propelled her to superstardom.
Growing up in Brooklyn, the young girl known as Carol Klein sold her first song when she was still a teenager against her mother’s wishes. By the time she reached her 20’s, King was a wife and a mother with a flourishing career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll. Beneath the shiny exterior, King was living a life twisted with guilt, jealousy, and mental instability. There were good times too, happy moments with famous friends that helped eclipse the pain and propel a young woman into a life she’d only written of previously. As her personal life began to crumble, King finally found her true voice.
EU Jacksonville caught up with Andrew Brewer, who portrays Gerry, King’s husband and musical collaborator. The pair met in college when Goffin was 20 and King was just 16 and already an accomplished songwriter. Goffin’s name appears beside King’s on many of her early songwriting credits, a fact that she pointed out in a message to fans. “He had a profound impact on my life and the rest of the world. Gerry was a good man and a dynamic force, whose words and creative influence will resonate for generations to come. His legacy to me is our two daughters, four grandchildren, and our songs that have touched millions and millions of people, as well as a lifelong friendship,” writes King. “His words expressed what so many people were feeling but didn’t know how to say.”
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is a big show with a huge score featuring a stunning array of beloved songs written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil, including “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “You’ve Got A Friend,” earning the 2015 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album “The songs are very entwined in the story. The music helps push the story along,” says Brewer. “It’s fun for us and it’s very fun for the audience too. It gives them the experience of going behind the scene of the songs to know why they were written, and they get to see it all play out. There’s nostalgia, storytelling, and the performance aspect so they get a little bit of all of it.”
As the decade evolves, Gerry becomes disillusioned with the relationship, favoring the buzz of the fast lane over a quiet life as a family man. Following numerous bumps throughout their journey punctuated by infidelities, drug use, and a deteriorating mental state, King ends the marriage but salvages a friendship and professional partnership. “They continued writing together even after their marriage ended. He helped to raise the kids and even moved out to LA. There were good aspects to what was going on,” says Brewer. “The mental issues he went through were heavily influenced by his drug use. He was bipolar and not able to be satisfied with a quiet life. He wanted to be on the cutting edge, and Carole wanted to live life with the kids. When you live a life where nothing is ever enough, it can drive you crazy and I think it did.”
Despite Goffin’s penchant for bad behavior, Brewer says the contribution to popular music and his continued support for his family made it easy to root for his character. It’s also worth noting that the demise of the marriage was largely responsible for inspiring many of King’s biggest hits. “It’s not the typical good guy vs. the villain set up in the show. We’re portraying real people, and there was a time when that relationship was great and a time when Carole really loved him,” says Brewer. “You want to see these people to the end and you just hope it’s going to turn around.”
Relationships are central to the Beautiful story, as told through the music that helped shape them. Offstage, the bond between the cast members is equally powerful, particularly Brewer as Goffin and Sarah Bockel in the lead as King. Brewer was an understudy for two and a half years before filling the regular role as Gerry. Bockel filled the role as King’s understudy at the same time, and the pair have formed a genuine bond that easily translates to the stage. Brewer has developed close relationships with many of his castmates as roommates, work out partners, road trip buddies, and best friends. Together, they are all navigating the life of a working actor in the same big, beautiful show.
For tickets and more information, go to www.artistseriesjax.com.