The New York Post described the casting of Mueller, 31, in
the lead role of the show that charts the rise of the songwriter
from her early days penning hits with her first husband Gerry
Goffin to a solo career and her 1971 multiple Grammy-winning
album "Tapestry" as "inspired."
"Mueller's hardly a household name," the newspaper said after
the show's opening night on Sunday. "But her engaging, moving
performance here should make her one."
USA Today praised Mueller's voice, range and comic sensibility
and described her as "one of our best young musical actresses."
The New York Times said Mueller, a Tony nominee for her role
opposite Harry Connick Jr. in 2011's "On a Clear Day You Can See
Forever," has been a Broadway star in the waiting for several
years but with "Beautiful" she became one.
"Much of what makes Ms. Mueller's performance so touching is its
projection of a lack of confidence," the newspaper said.
"There's humility to Ms. Mueller's Carole, part of whom wants
only to be a good Jewish wife and mother, preferably in the
suburbs," it added.
The Hollywood Reporter agreed.
"She conveys the burgeoning singer-songwriter's creative drive
while wrestling quietly with her ingrained, old-fashioned sense
of the expectations for a wife and mother," it said.
But while critics lauded Mueller's portrayal as the
chart-topping legend, they were less enthusiastic about the
production that included songs such as "So Far Away," "It's Too
Late," "Up on the Roof" and "I Feel the Earth Move."
Like "Jersey Boys" and "Motown: The Musical," shows that have
been drawing crowds on Broadway, "Beautiful" is about real
people and the music they created.
[to top of second column]
In addition to Mueller, former "Spider-Man Turn off
the Dark" star Jake Epstein plays Goffin and Anika Larsen ("Avenue
Q") and Jarrod Spector ("Jersey Boys") portray their best friends,
songwriting couple Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann.
But unlike other shows, critics said "Beautiful" lacks drama and
"The early life and career of legendary singer-songwriter Carole
King surely deserves more imaginative treatment than the corny
chronological storytelling and old-fashioned musical format of
'Beautiful'," said the trade magazine Variety.
Director Marc Bruni said he found the catalog of
music that King, 71, produced and her story an irresistible
combination for a Broadway show.
But the New York's Daily News newspaper said although the entire
cast delivers, a musical needs more than great music.
"The book is crucial, too — and this show's connect-the-dots storyline is so simplistic that the extravagantly talented King's life
emerges as a mundane version of the long-suffering little woman," it
The New York Times thought it lacked originality, saying it was a
"friendly, formulaic bio-musical."
Although the Hollywood Reporter said the show was constructed around
the songs and had little character development, it found it
"entertaining boomer bait" with great songs, referring to the baby
boomer generation who grew up with King's music.
(Editing by Eric Kelsey and James
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