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My Visit with Beautiful

Today, my friend Sandie and I went down to the Buell Theatre in Denver to See Beautiful, The Carole King Musical. Oh, and of course, my guide dog Petunia came along. Sandie hadn’t been sure she wanted to see it, but I had tickets, and she was a wonderful friend and decided to go. And she ended up having a great time. As for me, well, I’d like to say, there are no words, but if you know me, you know there are words!

I was born in 1957, and I remember so vividly when King’s album, Tapestry, came along. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before. Not like my beloved Beatles, or the stones, or the doo wop bubblegum stuff of the sixties. She was part of the singer/songwriter era, and she was a master of it!

Beautiful tells the story of her life, from age sixteen, when she sold her first song—It Might as Well Rain Until September—to the making of Tapestry, and finally, a Carnegie Hall concert. It’s an ensemble cast, Carole, Gerry Gofin her ex-husband and co-songwriter, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, fellow songwriters, competitors and best friends, and Don Kirshner, the record executive who took a chance on Carole. People may not realize the extent of King’s song writing. Her songs were recorded by groups such as the Drifters, the Shirelles, The Righteous Brothers, the Monkees, and even, yes, the Beatles. Have you heard Aretha Franklin sing Natural Woman? Well, Carole King wrote that song.

The show had humor, sadness, and absolutely far out out of sight music! Ahem, think I’m dating myself with that slang, aren’t I? It just seemed fitting for the story.

Back to today. Sandie picked us up up around quarter to noon, and down to Denver we went. We got there in plenty of time, and stopped in at our usual Limelight Café for lunch. And as before, I had a mimosa and a burger. I didn’t enjoy the burger as much today. The day was exceedingly hot, and I wasn’t very hungry. But it was fun to be there, enjoying the atmosphere and anticipating the show.

After lunch, we walked across the courtyard to the will-call to pick up the tickets. One of the highlights of the day happened there. For over a year, I’ve been working with a woman at the theater complex named Jessica. She answered many emails about seating for people with disabilities, gave me the ins and outs of getting season tickets, braille programs, or anything I needed. She and I had emailed this week, and she told me she would be managing the box office, so look her up. And we got to meet her. I was so happy to have the chance to meet her face-to-face, to thank her in person for all she’s done, to give her a hug. Thanks for everything, Jessica. She’s going to help me exchange dates for tickets and things like that, if I need that in the future. One show I want to see very much is Finding Neverland, but my tickets are for New Year’s Eve. Now, really, who’s gonna want to drive to Denver with me on that day? Not to mention driving home after 5:00 on such a night. Anyway, she’s a gem, a pillar of the highest quality customer service. From time to time, after working at Nordstrom in the nineties, I come across someone who is so above and beyond the norm of customer service, and I think to myself, that person has the Nordstrom spirit. And that’s how Jessica is. I’ve always been thankful, that she was the one to answer my email about seating all those months ago.

Did you think I’d never get to talking about Beautiful? Finally!

The show was fantastic. Carole King was an amazing writer, but she didn’t have the best voice. Not the worst voice, but not one of the best. And I like that the actress playing her, showed that. There were a few songs where the actress let go and showed what a great voice she has, but for the most part, she stayed true to King, who was a little shy about her singing and didn’t have as much confidence in it as everyone else did. The people who sang the parts of the Drifters and the Righteous Brothers were over the moon, mmmm, so good! The songs that King/Gofin had written but didn’t record, were all jazzed up, so it wasn’t just a straight rendition of the pop hits we know. Every performer was top notch. The woman who played Little Eva, man, when she sang the Locomotion, the place was rockin! I was moving to the songs in my seat, trying not to sing along, and failing, wanting to clap but nobody else did. Grin. It was fun, it was happy, in spite of some of the sad parts, it was joyful, a true delight.

At the end, of course there was a standing ovation, and then the cast came out and did I Feel the Earth Move Under my Feet. We were finally all standing, clapping and singing along. I’m sure there must have been people dancing too. It was an experience!

We went to Applebee’s on the way home and then came back here. Sandie stayed for a bit, helping me with some things. I got some DVD’s I’d ordered from amazon, plus some new silverware—it’s got red handles, isn’t that cool? If you know me, you know my signature color is red. Now, I’m relaxing, listening to a little music, writing this blog entry. It was a wonderful day, a beautiful show, a perfect day out with friends. If you have the chance to see Beautiful, don’t miss it. Even if you didn’t grow up with her music, her story, her strength, her talent, it’s a story worth telling, and a show very much worth seeing.