1. What’s The Show About?
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the story of Carole King’s path to becoming one of the most iconic songwriters of a generation. As a teenager, Carole King already starts to write songs professionally and watches her career skyrocket as she joins forces with fellow songwriters Gerry Goffin (whom she later married), Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. But it isn’t until her marriage falls apart that Carole truly finds her voice as a solo artist.
4. How did you research your role?
Jessie Mueller: A lot of research, which is fascinating too because early on there’s not a whole lot out there. But God bless Google and the internet, you can find those things, they’re like little gems, you can find live recordings and video footage. It’s a lot of that and also studying the music, a lot of listening, a lot of listening to her and trying to get the phrasing and the vocal patterns down. She’s kind of unlike anyone else.
Jake Epstein: I learned a lot for the role from our writer, Douglas McGrath, who spent a lot of time interviewing these guys. There’s hardly any video clips of Gerry — it’s all been through stories I’ve heard or read or from talking to people who knew the guy to find out who he was and his essence. I actually got to meet him in San Francisco, which was really amazing.
Cynthia Weil: It is a daunting task to play somebody who is still alive and real and who is going to see you do your show. But Cynthia — the real Cynthia — has been wonderful and lovely and open and very loving in her approval of my portrayal. There’s books out there written about all of these folks we’ve all read and documentaries, so all of those were great resources. But ultimately, at a certain point you have to take the Cynthia that Doug McGrath wrote and let that be my Cythnia and not worry so much about being a carbon copy of the real Cynthia Weil.
5. What’s your favorite number in the show?
Jessie Mueller: It changes from night to night, but there’s a song we just recently added, “You’ve Got A Friend” since our San Francisco run that is woven into the story in a really neat way. It’s a special moment for us because a bunch of us get to share it on stage.
Jake Epstein: I love watching “On Broadway”, I love watching the cast perform that song, and “On the Roof” is my favorite Carole King/Gerry Goffin song.
Anika Larsen: There’s too many! We’re not really singing our feelings like in other musicals. It’s really more of a play with music, and Doug McGrath is so clever in how he placed the songs so that we actually are singing our feelings, we’re just doing it in a realistic way. I really love the song “Beautiful”, it’s Carole’s anthem and it’s an anthem full of light because it’s as beautiful as it feels to get up every morning and put a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart. It’s the way to live.
6. Most importantly: Team Cat or Dog?
Jessie Mueller: I like them both! I never really knew if I was a cat person because I lived with my sister for a while and she had this amazing cat, so I like cats now and I sort of have to say that too because of Carole and her cat in the album cover of Tapestry. But I’m a dog person too — my boyfriend every day asks me if we can get a dog, one day we will.
Jake Epstein: I’m actually allergic to cats so yeah, definitely a dog person!
Anika Larsen: I am not a dog person or a cat person; New York City is too hard to live with an animal, especially with our schedules, we’ve been here noon to midnight every day!