Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse

Marrick Smith and Kyra Kennedy in a scene from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse. Photo by Jeremy Daniel
Marrick Smith and Kyra Kennedy in a scene from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse. Photo by Jeremy Daniel

NEW YORK – Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse


There are over fifty synonyms for the word dazzling, but it’s the first one that popped into my mind when describing Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, now playing at the Paper Mill Playhouse.

Beloved Singer-Songwriter

Kyra Kennedy, who plays the beloved singer-songwriter and musician Carole King, made her Paper Mill debut in a full house. Kennedy’s acting, and most notably, her powerhouse singing, captivated the audience as she took them on a journey from King’s humble beginnings in Brooklyn by showcasing a dozen songs she had written in collaboration with her husband Gerry Goffin (Marrick Smith), to her first solo performance at Carnegie Hall after winning four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for Tapestry

Transformed the Music World

At 16, King had the moxie to take a medley of her songs to music publisher Don Kirshner (Bryan Fenkart), who had set up a music factory in Times Square for up-and-coming artists. King had already met the love of her life, Goffin, and they began a partnership that transformed the music world in the 60s. They made music and history until their divorce in 1968, writing such songs as It Might as Well Rain Until September, Some Kind of Wonderful, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, and their first Billboard number 1 hit, The Loco-Motion. Goffin and King’s 17-year-old babysitter, Little Eva (Mikayla White), recorded the hit song in 1962.


It wasn’t just the music that was spectacular; it was also the choreography and the costumes. Theatergoer Barbara Dickinson remarked on The Drifters (Tavis Cunningham, Prentiss E. Mouton, Jay Owens, Isaiah Reynolds) performance of On Broadway. “The synchronized, slinky dance in silver two-piece suits and black ties was sexy–they had swagger.”

Carole King. Courtesy

Carole King. Courtesy

Chart-Topping Music

We were also privy to the fantastic, friendly, and competitive battle for chart-topping music between Goffin and King and the incredibly talented singer-songwriter duo Barry Mann (Jacob Ben-Shmuel) and Cynthia Weil (Samantha Massell). This rivalry resulted in Billboard hits we love and remember, like Walking in the Rain, We Gotta Get Out of This Place, but the most memorable hit, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, all performed during the musical.

The King-Goffin Journey

The women’s costumes were alluring and shimmery, the men were dapper. The insight into the marriage between King and Goffin, which worked at first but broke apart with infidelity, was heartbreaking. Still, it resulted in King becoming an even greater solo artist. Love doesn’t always keep you together. Beautiful entertained, made you laugh, and made you cry, as most in the audience had been along for the King-Goffin journey in the past few decades.

If you can get a seat in this once-in-a-lifetime production at the Paper Mill Playhouse, don’t hesitate. 26 songs and 26 rounds of thunderous applause will make it worth it.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Starring Kyra Kennedy, Bryan Fenkart, Marrick Smith, Samantha Massell, and Jacob Ben-Shmuel. Book by Douglas McGrath; words and music by Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Barry Mann, and Cynthia Weil; music by arrangement with Sony Music Publishing; scenic design by Roman Tatarowicz; costume design by Jen Caprio; lighting design by Jess Creager; sound design by Sun Hee Kil; choreography by Jennifer Werner; directed by Casey Hushion; conducted by Wendy Bobbitt Cavett. Press by The Press Room NYC.

Performances through July 3rd. The running time is about 165 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.

The Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ 07041.

Readers may also enjoy our reviews of Lempicka at the Longacre Theatre, Cabaret at the Kit Kat ClubSuffs, The Two HanderGun and Powder: The Legend of the Sisters ClarkeTo Whom Should I ComplainAddress Unknown at the Town HallThe Moth Project, and The Who’s Tommy.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse


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July 3, 2024 11:31 am

Goffin not Geffen

Edward A Kliszus
July 3, 2024 7:54 pm
Reply to  NCJ

Thank you!!

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