Video, photos: A 'Beautiful' Opening Night in Denver

by John Moore | Jul 26, 2016



Denver welcomed the national touring production of Beautiful — The Carole King Musical on June 19, and we spoke with stars Abby Mueller (Carole King), Becky Gulsvig (Cynthia Weil), along with DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg after the opening-night performance about what makes the Tony Award-winning musical so much more than a revue of pop hits from the 1960s and 1970s.

Beautiful is the empowering, true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, but at a great personal cost to her family. Along the way, King wrote the soundtrack to a generation. Watch the video above, and read more from our conversation below:

A BeautifulOpening QAuoteAbby Mueller: Beautiful is such a fun journey through the pop era of the 1950s and ‘60s. Carole and her first writing partner (and later husband) Gerry Goffin started writing songs when she was a teenager. And then they met Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and you get some of their songs as well. So this is a really is a deep, deep catalog of music that everyone knows - but perhaps they don’t know that Carole wrote this song, or Cynthia wrote that song. It’s a fun journey the audience goes on. We hear these gasps of recognition when they hear songs they know, but have never attributed to these writers.

John Moore: Becky, tell us more about Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann.

Becky Gulsvig: Becky and Cynthia are amazing. They wrote so many songs that everyone knows and loves. Songs like, You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling, which is still the most-played song on the radio - ever. They wrote On Broadway and Rockin’ in the Rain and We Gotta Get Out of This Place and Uptown and so many more. You don’t necessarily know Cynthia and Barry as well as you know Carole King, but you really know a lot of their music. And they provide a balance to the love story because as Carole and Gerry fall apart, they come together. You also get to hear some of the back stories that tell you what was going on in their lives as some these songs were created.

John Moore: John, what do you think makes Beautiful a different kind of musical?

John Ekeberg: Our Denver audiences don’t always have the opportunity to go to New York to see Broadway shows, but the production I saw tonight was Broadway quality. It was just top-notch across the board. And to hear the audience’s reaction, I think, was really powerful.

Read the Denver Post review of Beautiful

John Moore: Abby, people might presume all they are going to get are these hit songs, but there is a pretty compelling story being told here as well.

Abby Mueller: It is such a challenging and rewarding journey. People come to this show knowing they love these songs, but maybe they didn’t totally anticipate the emotional journey that everyone goes on. There is a lot of humor; there is some drama, some pathos and ultimately triumph. I think it’s a really satisfying night at the theatre.

John Moore: You both play real people. Talk about the additional responsibility of portraying characters who are still very much among the living.

Beautiful Opening Becky Gulsvig Abby MuellerBecky Gulsvig: I think there is definitely a different level of obligation when the person you are playing might come to see your show and either love you or hate you. That is daunting. They have casting approval, so we know they wanted us in the show, which is always nice. But you want to be respectful of their story and be truthful to what they did in real life. It’s an honor, to be honest, because all of these people are musical icons, and they did such amazing work. It’s great get to stand on their shoulders and share their stories with even more people. So many people grew up with this music, but it’s still reaching more new people every day.

Abby Mueller: It is an honor to play Carole - and there is a responsibility that comes with that. That helps me focus on the fact that this is not about me. My responsibility is to Carole and to bring the most truth to her story that I can. It’s been a gift. People come and they just love Carole and Cynthia and Barry and Gerry so much, and we can feel that coming from the audiences. We get to borrow that for a little while. I feel like I am stealing love. It’s really special.

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

John Moore: I was surprised by how much of an empowerment story Beautiful turns out to be for women of all ages.

Abby Mueller: I really find Carole inspiring on so many levels. At a time when women were not doing what she was doing, she was writing songs and raising a family and having a career on her own terms, which is really admirable and enviable. That’s something I really look up to.

John Moore: You both have connections to our favorite daughter of Denver, Annaleigh Ashford (pictured right).

ASHFORD_ AnnaleighBoth: We love Annaleigh!

Becky Gulsvig: Yes, I was in the original Broadway cast of Legally Blonde, The Musical, and I adore every inch of that magical unicorn. I love her.

Abby Mueller: Yes, and I was a replacement swing in Kinky Boots, and she made me feel so welcome. She is a marvelous human being, and I love her. 

John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist. 

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical: Ticket information
• Through July 31
• Buell Theatre
• ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. July 31
• Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
• Groups: Call 303-446-4829



Photo gallery: Beautiful in Denver

'Beautiful' in Denver

Our photos from opening night of 'Beautiful - The Carole king Musical' in Denver. To see more, click the arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Video at top of page by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

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ABOUT THE EDITOR
John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.