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via Daily Prompt: Shine with thanks to Ben Huberman, The Daily Post for the inspiration

NoLateSeatingThose who crave the spotlight most often become entertainers. Their talent demands it. It is their calling to shine.

We applaud them, and in so doing bask in the glow of their accomplishment. They are center stage with the footlights on them, but we are illuminated by their performance.

Their light shines on us as they render and interpret and presnet their truths. Greater  performers shine brightest, and we shine brighter too.

Posted in Barry Mann, Carole King, Cynthia Weil, Don Kirshnew, Gerry Goffin, Jake Epstein, Jessie Mueller, rock and roll, singer-songwriters, Tapestry, The Shirelles

#1 On The Charts

The “jukebox musical” is no longer a term of endearment. So it’s a good thing that the jukebox musical has found its way to the other side.

It doesn’t matter that few would have a bigger jukebox than Carole King because “Beautiful-The Carole King Musical,” at The Stephen Sondheim Theatre, is  actually a “non-jukebox” musical. “Beautiful” is a story, almost a drama with a track, that covers Carole King’s journey from hitmaker to hit singer-songwriter. It moves from  1650 Broadway (“not the Brill Building”) to the “Tapestry” album and her appearance at the piano at Carnegie Hall. It is biography so it sticks to a timeline. The songs don’t move the story along so much as they are the story.

Jeb Brown as Don Kirshner, Jake Epstein as Gerry Goffin,
Jessie Mueller as Carole King, Jarrod Spector as Barry Mann,
and Anika Larsen as Cynthia Weil in
“Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” on Broadway at
the Stephen Sondheim Theater (c)Joan Marcus

Carole King (Jessie Mueller) had her first chart topper in 1959, when, at 17 she and her husband, lyricist Gerry Goffin (Jake Epstein), gave The Shirelle’s a huge hit in “Will You Love Me Tommorrow.”  From there the hits just kept coming, until one day, years later, Carole King began singing and playing her own music.

Rock and roll did not die, but as Gerry Goffin predicted, it changed under the influence of folk and split off into all kinds of pop and crackle from The Monkees to metal. For many practitioners in the medium, rock and roll went deeper and became more expressive than “The Locomoton” (another King-Goffin hit.)

Jessie Mueller as Carole King in “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical”
on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theater (c)Joan Marcus

“Beautiful” thoroughly integrates the music into the plot. “Beautiful” doesn’t take its legends too seriously. Jessie Mueller gets Carole King’s inflections and phrasing, but not just in a mimicky way.  It can’t be easy to personify Carole King when so mnay of us have known her so well and for so long. Jessie Mueller pulls this off as well. King has been a star for most of my life and much of hers, but she is not a glamourous presence. Mueller captures this too–, the simple girl whose genius is undisputed so that even she cannot deny it.

The Shirelles (L-R: Ashley Blanchet, Rashidra Scott, Alysha Deslorieux, and Carly Hughes) in “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theater (c)Joan Marcus

The excellent work by Jeb Brown as Don Kirshner and Jake Epstein as Gerry Goffin back Mueller up. Also outstanding in a great ensemble, under Marc Bruni’s fine direction, are Anika Larsen, charming as Cynthia Weil, and Jarrod Spector as Cynthia’s writing partner, Barry Mann.

“Beautiful- The Carole King Musical” steps out of the jukebox genre to deliver a moving portrait of its eponymous heroine, and the times in which her art was forged.

For more informaton about “Beautiful,” please visit

Posted in athletes, comedy, family, love story, parenting, parents and children, politics, rock and roll, siblings, teens, young love

A Tall Order: Anna Kerrigans "The Talls"

Anna Kerrigan’s fine new play, “The Talls” would probably benefit from a more seductive title. Family in dysfunction can have so many iterations, but this one is fresh and beguiling.

Set in a small California town in the 1970’s, “The Talls” at 2econd Stage Theatre Uptown, through August 27th, focuses on the rudderless Clarke children.

Everything in “The Talls” encapsulates the 1970s. The actors are perfectly dressed by Jenny Mannis and the Clarke living room, in a set by Dane Laffrey, is evocative of “The Brady Bunch.”

Big sister, Isabelle (Shannon Esper) feels responsible for keeping her siblings on track. She makes sure they get their homework done, keeps Christian (Michael Oberholtzer) from picking on Catherine (Lauren Holmes) and makes sure that their youngest brother, Nicholas (Timothee Chalamet) gets ready for bed.

Gerard Canonico as Russell James with Shannon
Esper as Isabelle [Photo (c) Joan Marcus] 

The parents, John (Peter Rini) and Anne Clarke (Christa Scott-Reed) are pre-occupied– mostly with dad’s career and aspirations in politics, but also with Anne’s friendship with Sister Connie, one of the children’s teachers.

Christa Scott-Reed as Mrs. Anne Clarke and Peter Rini
as Mr. John Clarke [Photo (c) Joan Marcus] 

Anne, who has forgotten about Christian’s and Catherine’s ball games in the early afternoon, comes home to remind them, over an early cocktail, to get ready to meet their father’s political advisor, Russell James (Gerard Canonico).

Isabelle is not just the oldest in the family, she is also the smartest, and in some ways, despite her youth, the wisest. She is, also, the most daring. Isabelle longs for freedom from the straight and narrow. Her dreams of being a hippie are partly fulfilled as the comedy reaches a poignant outcome.

To find out more about Anna Kerrigan’s “The Talls,” please visit