Beautiful stars Jessie Mueller as Carole King, Jake Epstein as Gerry Goffin, Anika Larsen as Cynthia Weil and Jarrod Spector as Barry Mann. Mueller, Larsen and Spector were Tony-nominated for their performances.
Here, Mueller, Epstein, Larsen and Spector, via email, share their favorite tunes by King and tell us why they made the list.
Based on King's life and music, Beautiful began previews Nov. 21, 2013, prior to an official opening Jan. 12 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.
Here's how the creators bill the musical: "Long before she was Carole King, chart-topping music legend, she was Carol Klein, Brooklyn girl with passion and chutzpah. She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and, by the time she reached her twenties, had the husband of her dreams and a flourishing 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 managed to find her true voice. Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of King's remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation."
Jessie Mueller: "It’s Too Late." "Something inside has died, and I can't hide, and I just can't fake it…" — A gorgeous lyric by Toni Stern and a haunting and groovy melody by Carole. To quote the show, "There's so much feeling, but it's put so simply."
Jessie Mueller: "It's Gonna Take Some Time." I love how she can write a song about heartbreak and have such beautiful, positive perspective on it.
Jessie Mueller: And then it's a tie between "Just Once In My Life" and "Way Over Yonder." The versions on "The Legendary Demos"… Such soulful songs. And I love them, too, because they're just her singing and pounding away at the piano. That's all she needs.
Jake Epstein: "Will You Love Me Tomorrow." What a gorgeous melody mixed with such profound lyrics! I love everything about this song. It blew my mind that even though it's written from what seems like a woman's perspective, the lyrics were written by a man (Gerry Goffin).
Jake Epstein: "Home Again." This song perfectly expresses the feeling of doing something worthwhile on the road, but missing home and not knowing when you're going to get there again. I love New York, but sometimes I miss home!
Jake Epstein: "Up on the Roof." My favorite Carole King and Gerry Goffin tune. I love how the melody keeps going up and up until you feel like you're on a roof and the world below can't bother you anymore.
Jarrod Spector: "Pleasant Valley Sunday." Part of what makes Beautiful so engaging to music lovers, I believe, is hearing songs that we think we know very well in a different way. The Monkees' take on this tune is iconic, but stripped of most everything but a girl and a guitar, you can really hear the lyrics, the sad irony juxtaposed against an otherwise bouncy, peppy melody. This is, as we say in the show, a SERIOUS song.
Jarrod Spector: "Sweet Seasons." This song is just so quintessentially 70s to me — which I realize is slightly bizarre considering I wasn't born until the 80s. Nonetheless, the "Music" album came out in 1971, the same year as Elton John's "Mad Man Across the Water" and just two years before Paul Simon's "There Goes Rhymin' Simon," and it's so apparent when listening to the musical and thematic connections between Sweet Seasons and tunes like Tiny Dance and Kodachrome how much all of these brilliant singer-songwriters respected — and copied — one another.
Jarrod Spector: "Some Kind Of Wonderful." Again, hearing a song stripped down to just a girl and a piano changes it so much. The Drifters version is classic, of course, but Carole's solo recording highlights the heartbreakingly tender, vulnerable lyrics. She and Gerry were so young when they wrote this song, and it's expressive of that idyllic love we all dreamed of as teenagers, but it has such maturity to it as well, and I can't help but feel that it will bring tears to my eyes just as effectively when I'm (hopefully) 80 as it does now.
Anika Larsen: "Home Again." Most of my favorite Carole King songs are in Beautiful, but my favorite that's not is "Home Again." Sometimes it feels like she's tapping a vein straight into your heart.
Anika Larsen: "Pierre." My first exposure to Carole King was as a child, with the groovy album/animated movie "Really Rosie." She did the music, and Maurice Sendak did the lyrics and artwork. This song, "Pierre," was my favorite.
Anika Larsen: "You Can Close Your Eyes." My favorite performance by Carole King is her and James Taylor singing his song "You Can Close Your Eyes" on their special "Live at the Troubadour." I don't know that it gets sweeter than this.