"Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" - North Shore Music Theatre (Beverly, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: Elena Ricardo as "Carole King" and the ensemble of the Broadway smash musical, "BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL" now playing at Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA. through June 18, 2023. Photo Credit Paul Lyden)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

“I have often asked myself the reason for the sadness, In a world where tears are just a lullaby. If there's any answer, maybe love can end the madness...Maybe not, oh, but we can only try.”

                                                                                          - Carole King     

North Shore Music Theatre

Presents the Carole King Musical


Book by Douglas McGrath

Words and Music by Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil

Direction & Choreography by Marcos Santana

Music Direction by Camille Villalpando Rolla

Music by Arrangement with Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Orchestrations, Vocal and Incidental Music Arrangements by Steve Sidwell

Cast Includes: Elena Ricardo* (Carole King); Jake Bentley Young* (Gerry Goffin); Jessica Rush* (Cynthia Weil); Jack Cahill-Lemme* (Barry Mann); Reed Campbell* (Don Kirshner); Jean McCormick* (Genie Klein); Elizabeth Adabale* (Little Eva, Shirelle, Ensemble); Courtney Blackmun* (Lucille, Shirelle, Ensemble); Kobe Brown (Drifter, Ensemble); Andrew Burke (Ensemble, Swing); Tony Collins (Ensemble, Swing); Justin Michael Duval* (Nick, Righteous Brother, Ensemble, U/S Don Kirshner); Seth Eliser* (Lou Adler, Neil Sedaka, Righteous Brother, Ensemble, U/S Barry Mann, U/S Gerry Goffin); Tiffany Francès* (Shirelle, Ensemble); Rachel Gubow (Marilyn Wald, Ensemble, S/C Carole King, S/C Genie Klein); Selene Klasner (Ensemble, Swing); Christopher McCrewell* (Drifter, Ensemble); Ashley McManus* (Shirelle, Janelle Woods, Ensemble, Dance Captain); Michael Anthony Nero* (Drifter, Ensemble); Chris Richie (Drifter, Ensemble); Allie Seibold* (Betty, Ensemble, U/S Cynthia Weil); Giselle Amarisa Watts (Ensemble, Swing).

Additional Creative Team:

Douglas McGrath (Book); Gerry Goffin (Words And Music); Carole King (Words And Music); Barry Mann (Words And Music); Cynthia Weil (Words And Music); Marcos Santana (Direction & Choreography); Camille Villalpando Rolla (Music Direction); Jack Mehler (Scenic & Lighting Design); Travis M. Grant (Costume Design); Alex Berg (Co-Sound Design); Don Hanna (Co-Sound Design); Rachel Padula-Shufelt (Wig & Hair Design); Kelly Baker (Costume Coordination); Stephen MacDonald (Production Stage Manager); Dakotah Wiley Horan (Assistant Stage Manager); Robert L. Rucinski (Assistant Music Direction/Rehearsal Pianist);   Bill Hanney (Owner/Producer); Kevin P. Hill (Producing Artistic Director);   Matthew Chappell (Associate Producer, Casting Director).



June 6, 2023 to June 18, 2023

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times)  


$68 - $93 

For tickets and information visit www.nsmt.org, call (978) 232-7200, or visit the North Shore Music Theatre box office in person at 54 Dunham Rd., Beverly, MA.


Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

"BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROL KING MUSICAL" is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIShows.com

(Note: The following review is of a preview performance held on June 6th, 2023)

Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre (NSMT) hits just the right notes with an inventive production of “BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL, a biographical jukebox musical that is a joy from beginning to end. 

With a book by Douglas McGrath, “BEAUTIFUL” tells the captivating story of the early life and career of singer-songwriting legend Carole King (Elena Ricardo). 

Premiering on Broadway in 2014, the show went on to win both Tony and Grammy Awards

The splendid cast, directed and choreographed by Marcos Santana with music direction by Camille Villapando Rolla, brings a spirited enthusiasm to the music catalog of King

Carole King not only wrote/co-wrote many iconic ballads (“You’ve Got a Friend,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” as examples) she also was responsible for some memorable rock standards, as well (“Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “I Feel the Earth Move” and “The Locomotion”).

Performed in the round and with no sets, Santana could not totally replicate the staging and choreography of the original Broadway and subsequent Tour shows. 

Santana has, instead, offered a dazzling yet still faithful adaptation of the hit musical, enhanced by a masterfully creative use of lighting and ensuring high octane performances from the entire ensemble. 

The wonderful use of suspended imagery and an elevated turntable center stage keeps the show's pacing brisk without a single delay.

"The Locomotion" as sung by Little Eva (Elizabeth Adabale) and performed by the ensemble is the musical's pinnacle high point for Santana's choreography. 

Yet there is also a creative montage of hits ("1650 Broadway Melody") that is more subtle but the blending showcases an equally brilliant staging and creative use of the NSMT space in the round.

Truly, with all the joyous singing and dancing from the enthusiastic and talented cast, this is one, fun non-stop “some kind of wonderful” musical party.

(Photo: Elena Ricardo as "Carole King" and the ensemble of the Broadway smash musical, "BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL" now playing at Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA. through June 18, 2023. Photo Credit Paul Lyden)

There are two basic types of “jukebox musicals.” 

The first tends to involve a contrived, (usually) ridiculous, flimsy plot designed to string a catalog of songs into a show. 

The arguably more effective alternative (again, usually) involves telling the biography of the composer/artist involved in the songs and, in the case of “BEAUTIFUL, this show tells the story of the multi-talented King

In her performance, both musically and as the character, Elena Ricardo does not attempt an “impression” or impersonation of King. Instead, she is exemplary in her representation of the persona of King in her honest approach and forthright conviction to the character. 

Even with biographical stories, which have a reverential through line of truth for the artists in question (“Tina,” “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical,” “Jersey Boys” just to name a few), the biggest complaint critics have for most jukebox musicals is that they lack substance. 

Not so with “BEAUTIFUL, thanks, in part, to McGrath’s book, but mostly because of King herself, who was not born to follow any career path but the one she managed to navigate on her own at an early age (16) with and without songwriting partner and future husband, Gerry Goffin (Jake Bentley Young). 

King’s music, especially when using Goffin’s distinctive lyrics, reflected a changing perception of women of all ages, who were seen emerging more and more from relegated lives in suburbia, which, perhaps to some, felt like their own private “Pleasant Valley Sunday” hell. 

Young women, in particular, felt they had more to contribute to the world. 

Here, ironically, it is Goffin, as shown in the musical, who finds himself struggling with life in suburbia, leading to an ultimate turning point in their marriage. 

As described in the lyrics of the aforementioned Monkees’ hit, suburbia meant “Rows of houses that are all the same, and no one seems to care” as “Mothers complain about how hard life is, and the kids just don’t understand.” 

As Bob Dylan would point out, the "times" they were "a changin’." 

King was among many women seeking that “one fine day” in their lives when they would find much longed for “elements” within their own truth to help them feel like more “natural women” as opposed to the female roles 20th-century society had dictated. 

Many women found those “elements” contained within the lyrics of King’s music, especially songs from her iconic “Tapestry” solo album, revealing not only King's versatility, but also her compassion, confidence, strength and vulnerability.

These women discovered they, indeed, had a “friend” in Carole King and that their friend was telling them it wasn’t too late for them to see their lives fulfilled, as well.  

These were the moments and songs executed flawlessly by Elena Ricardo as King in “BEAUTIFUL” that were immediately recognized and applauded by the NSMT audience at the June 6th preview performance.

Young has a wonderful voice that blends well with Ricardo, and is convincing as Goffin, who was both complex and troubled, struggling with drugs and other personal demons. 

Jean McCormick is delightfully funny as King’s overprotective mother, Genie Klein, not allowing the character to fall into a stereotypical Jewish mother character. 

There are scenes from the Goffin-King marriage that some might find troubling but in showcasing King's evolution, not only as an artist but as the person she would ultimately become, is necessary.

As adversities befall her throughout the show, we come to learn that Carole King was not only a talented composer, not only a resilient artist, not only a great collaborator, she was (and also remains) a fascinating, engaging and persistent presence in world of music.

(Photo: Elizabeth Adabale, Courtney Blackmun, Ashley McManus and Tiffany Francès as "The Shirelles" from the Broadway smash musical, "BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL" now playing at Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA. through June 18, 2023. Photo Credit David Costa Photography)

The score contains not only music by King and other legendary songwriters, but also a compliment of meticulously crafted orchestrations, featuring vocal and music arrangements provided by Sony/ATV Music Publishing Orchestrations and vocal and incidental music arrangements by Steve Sidwell

The ensemble, who also serve as pivotal characters in the Goffin-King professional and personal history, effortlessly execute the material to perfection, all while doubling as stage crew to help the story move fluidly from scene to scene. 

(Safety note: There is a great deal of activity and use of the aisles. It is recommended, for everyone's safety, that the audience please keep those legs/knees inside the aisles.)

In the more creative production areas, there are numerous challenges, especially as the story moves from the early 1960s to the 1970s.

However, in all these areas, especially in terms of costumes, make-up and hair, the NSMT creative teams rose to the challenge, adding many spritely, sparkly...(okay, "gah-roovy")...looks and color schemes for the musical acts of the era. 

(Photo: Elena Ricardo as "Carole King" in the Broadway smash musical, "BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL" now playing at Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA. through June 18, 2023. Photo Credit Paul Lyden)

The career of King, Brooklyn-born as Carole Klein, is a relevant subject for a musical, as she would help to score much of the ’60s and ’70s. 

Reed Campbell portrays music mogul Don Kirshner, who gave King her first big break and, as written here, Kirshner comes across far more “larger than life” – vibrant, amusing and charismatic. A far cry from the droll, monotone, balding, droopy jowl-ed, leisure suit-clad persona many might recall from his “Rock Concert” television show from the ’70s. Oh, well - the "magic" of theatre.

Those familiar with the artists represented in "BEAUTIFUL" will no doubt note that the world lost iconic "Brill Building era" songwriter Cynthia Weil (played in the musical by Jessica Rush) last week (June 1, 2023).

Weil's presence in "BEAUTIFUL" is affectionately represented by Rush's authentic performance, featuring a parallel story of love and partnership with songwriter Barry Mann (Jack Cahill-Lemme) as the collaborators would become rivals and friends of Goffin and King.

In 1987, Goffin, King, Mann and Weil were all inducted, together, into the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 1990, Goffin and King would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while Mann and Weil would be inducted (by King) in 2010.

Back in 2004, Mann and Weil together performed "They Wrote That?," a musical revue based on their songs. In it, Mann sang and Weil told stories of their songs and of their personal history.

Mann and Weil were true pioneers of ’60s music with a success equaling that of Goffin and King. We see the two sets of songwriting duos not only as competitors, but supporters, collaborators and, most of all, friends.

Outside of the songs that King wrote, many with Goffin, "BEAUTIFUL" also features other compositions by Mann and Weil, including "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place," You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," "On Broadway" and more. Again, all wonderfully brought forth by the NSMT ensemble.

So, "BEAUTIFUL" is almost like getting two Broadway jukebox musicals for the price of one. Such a deal.

Rush and Cahill-Lemme are outstanding as Mann and Weil, off-setting the troubled Goffin-King relationship as it unfolds by supplying some highly humorous and musical highlights during the show. 

Cahill-Lemme is not only funny in the show, he also has an absolutely enchanting singing voice.

(Photo: Elena Ricardo as "Carole King" and the ensemble of the Broadway smash musical, "BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL" now playing at Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA. through June 18, 2023. Photo Credit Paul Lyden) 

The marvelous orchestra executed the vivacious "BEAUTIFUL" score with precision and kept the pace effervescent.

"BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL" continues at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly until June 18th. DO NOT miss your chance to see this spectacular production.

Coming up next at Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre: "THE SOUND OF MUSIC" beginning July 11, 2023. https://www.metrmag.com/upcoming-shows/the-sound-of-music-by-rodgers-and-hammerstein-north-shore-music-theatre-beverly-ma

"But today there is no day or night,

Today there is no dark or light,

Today there is no black or white, 

Only shades of gray."

This review dedicated to the memory of Cynthia Weil (October 18, 1940 – June 1, 2023).

Approximately two hours, 40 minutes with one intermission.

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 




"BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL" is the story of Carole King’s remarkable journey from teenage songwriter to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee

She fought her way into the record business and built a career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll. 

But, it wasn’t until her personal life began to crack that she finally found her true voice. 

Featuring over two dozen pop classics, including “You’ve Got a Friend,” “One Fine Day,” “Up on the Roof,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and “Natural Woman,” this crowd-pleaser is filled with the songs you remember and a story you’ll never forget! 


Contains adult themes. We do encourage you to use your judgment based on your own research of the show, your own sensibilities, and a child's age and maturity level.

No children under the age of 4 will be permitted in the theatre including babes in arms.

RUNNING TIME: Approx. 2 hrs 40 min (includes intermission)


Since opening in 1955, NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE (NSMT) has become one of the most attended theatres in New England, with approximately 250,000 patrons annually. With a national and regional reputation for artistic achievement, NSMT has received numerous industry awards including Elliot Norton Awards, IRNE Awards, the Rosetta Le Noire Award from Actors' Equity, and the Moss Hart Award. NSMT produced the World Premiere of "Memphis" in 2003, the show went on to win four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Under the new ownership of Bill Hanney since 2010, NSMT continues to annually produce a musical subscription series and an annual production of "A Christmas Carol" along with celebrity concerts, children's programming and year-round education classes for children and adults. 


54 Dunham Road 

Beverly, MA 01915 

PHONE # 978-232-7200  

FAX # 978-232-9999