Beautiful at the Orpheum 

Sure, you probably know Carole King's double-sided hit single, "It's Too Late," backed with "I Feel the Earth Move." If you were born in the 20th century, chances are you own a copy of her Tapestry LP. Or maybe your parents or grandparents owned a copy. So you might also know she wrote/co-wrote lots of songs that were hits for other artists. Songs like "Natural Woman," a generation-defining cut from Aretha Franklin, and the James Taylor staple "You've Got a Friend." King's girl-group oeuvre alone ran the gamut from the Chiffons' optimistic "One Fine Day" to the Crystals' terrifying "He Hit Me." And that's just the beginning.

As a songwriter, King charted well over 100 hits between the 1950s and the turn of the millennium, making her one of the most successful American songwriters of the 20th century. The jukebox musical Beautiful maps King's early career in the recording industry and her rocky but productive creative partnership with husband Gerry Goffin.

click to enlarge Julia Knitel
  • Julia Knitel

Julia Knitel, who plays King in the Broadway tour of Beautiful — docking at the Orpheum this week — has been a fan of the singer/songwriter since she was old enough to remember. "I always liked 'Natural Woman,'" she says. "It's such a special song. It's just a beautiful piece of music."

Beautiful focuses on an 18-year stretch of King's career, from her late teens through her late 20s, especially the time she spent with husband/creative partner Goffin.

"What's special about the show versus a traditional jukebox musical is we don't create a story to shove songs into," Knitel says. "We have an incredible story about a husband and wife — how their lives were changing and, in turn, changing the scope of American music."

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