Based on a true story, “Beautiful - The Carole King Musical” traces the life and career of Carole King, an American songwriter behind songs such as “It’s Too Late,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman.” “Beautiful” is a jukebox musical, meaning it uses King’s songs to tell her story.
“Beautiful” will have four shows: 8 p.m. on Dec. 10, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Dec. 11 and 2 p.m. on Dec. 12 at IU Auditorium. Tickets start at $35 and $33 for students.
Ryan Farnsworth plays composer Barry Mann in the North American tour of “Beautiful”. In both the show and real life, Mann worked alongside King as a fellow writer and close friend.
IDS: Why should audiences come to see this show?
Farnsworth: ‘Beautiful - The Carole King Musical’ is about this beautiful story of this girl who starts writing when she’s 16 and she has to overcome so much adversity just to get to this brilliant superstar that so many people know and love. So, obviously, the people who are coming to see the show who know Carole King and love Carole King are going to love the show.
But even if you’re not a Carole King fan, the show is so well-done, it’s so funny, so heartfelt, so loving. If someone comes to see the show, even if it’s not their favorite show they’ve ever seen, they’re going to have a good time.
IDS: You’ve been in many other shows and tours. What’s different about “Beautiful”?
Farnsworth: Obviously, living in the age of COVID is going to be the front-and-center difference. On our bus rides, we’re all wearing masks the entire time unless we’re eating or drinking. We have to get tested three times a week. And we’re appreciative of it, but things can go wrong, and you’re kind of on the edge of your seat there waiting.
I’m quite grateful the company has so many contingencies in place. We’ve run into some issues. We even had to cancel a couple of shows already because some of the venues we’ve been to, we don’t see eye to eye and that’s totally fine, but that is probably the most challenging aspect and the biggest difference between this as opposed to other shows.
IDS: Are there any parts of this musical that resonate with you, or that you want to highlight?
Farnsworth: I always really enjoy the moment when the audience recognizes a song. The way the script is set up, things kind of happen suddenly. It isn’t “Oh, I’m writing this song ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow?’” It’s “Come on, you’ve got to finish this song, we’ve got to go to work. Oh, you finished these lyrics?” and Carole King sits down on the piano, just to try it out, just for a second, this silent scene with her husband lying on the couch, and as soon as she hits those chords and starts singing, the audience audibly gasps as they recognize the song.
IDS: What’s your favorite part or number that you’re in?
Farnsworth: There is this really beautiful number, it’s the second number in act two, where there is a bit of a spat between Barry, my character and Cynthia, and there’s this beautiful little duet that we get to sing together as we reconcile. It’s “Walking in the Rain,” and it’s just such a sweet song. I think that number is, for me, the most joyous part of the show.
IDS: What’s your favorite Carole King song?
Farnsworth: My favorite Carole King song is “It’s Too Late.” I’m a bit of an amateur songwriter myself, and the chords and the chord progression — the jazzy and bluesy type chords — are really cool in that song. Where it happens in the play is really fun as well. It’s turning a page from Carole being only a writer to starting to blossom into being a performer, so it’s very effective in how it’s presented in the show as well. And I just think the tune is a great tune.