Songwriters are often the unsung heroes of the music business. Only a handful have the success, impact, and longevity of the likes of Carole King. The story of the singer-songwriter who helped pen more than 100 songs that climbed up the Billboard charts is told in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, coming to Austin March 21-26.
“I was a huge fan without even knowing it,” confesses Liam Tobin, who plays King’s first husband and decade-long co-writer, Gerry Goffin, in the production. “I knew so many of the songs that she had written; I just didn’t know she had written them.”
Although the music is the centerpiece of Beautiful, Tobin says it’s also got a great story — the true-life story of King’s struggles and rise to fame as a songwriter and solo artist. “I think what’s greatest about Carole King, especially in this show, is her ability to persevere and endure. A lot of things don’t go her way, but she keeps pressing on and manages to really come out on top and shine in an amazing way.”
An amazing way that took her from a teenage songwriter to one of the most awarded women in American music, with several Grammy Awards, plus an induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame. She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and was honored at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors for her achievements in the performing arts.
But, of course, what speaks most to King’s accomplishments is her songwriting resume, which includes “You’ve Got a Friend” (James Taylor), “(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman” (Aretha Franklin), “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (The Shirelles), “Up On the Roof” (The Drifters), and the “The Loco-Motion” (Little Eva) — all of which are featured in Beautiful.
“The music is so timeless, and a lot of people have really strong personal connections to a lot of these songs,” explains Tobin. “I think it’s just a good-feeling show at the end of the day.”
He says the beautiful music King created (much with his character Goffin) strikes such a chord with so many that by the end of the show, the audience is literally dancing in the aisles. “It’s really something to see the audience reaction. It’s really fun.”
You can join in on the fun March 21-26 at Bass Concert Hall.