Get ready to feel the earth move under your feet!
The Tony® and Grammy® Award-winning Broadway hit Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, about the early life and career of the legendary and groundbreaking singer/songwriter, will make its Miami premiere at the Adrienne Arsht Center for one week, February 14 – 19, 2017.
Produced by Paul Blake and Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical features a stunning array of beloved songs written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil, including “I Feel the Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and the title song.
“Carole King might be a native New Yorker, but her story of struggle and triumph is as universal as they come – and her music is loved the world over,” producer Paul Blake said. “We know that audiences throughout the country will embrace this show just as Broadway and London audiences have.”
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to Julia Knitel who plays the title role of Carole King in the national tour. Knitel comes from an acting family and took over the lead role in Beautiful this past September after understudying for on Broadway. She has received critical acclaim due to her ability to channel the songwriter, making audiences forget it’s not really King herself on stage.
Hotspots: I appreciate you taking the time to use your voice, I know you are on tour as we speak.
Julia Knitel: It’s my pleasure.
When did you get started performing? Were you involved in the theatre as a kid?
Yes, actually. Both of my parents are performers, so I grew up in this world. I did my first show in the womb. My mother was playing a pregnant nun!
Well, that leads right into my next question. What was your first paid gig. (I’m assuming you didn’t get paid as a fetus.)
I was four years old and I was in a production of Showboat with my parents. They were playing the two principles and I played their daughter. That was the only child acting gig that I had, I didn’t work again professionally until I was 16 when I did my first Broadway show. They needed a kid and it was dinner theatre and they did matinees and lunchtime shows. The needed a kid that wasn’t in school and they said, “well, we have our four year old daughter, but she’s kinda young.” So I played a seven year old at four, and I was quite convincing because I was really tall as a kid.
Did you always know that this was what you wanted to do, or did growing up with actors for parents make you want to do something else?
I have always known. It has always been the ONLY option for me; I just love it so much. I have been surrounded by people who have supported that pursuit and made it easy for me to follow this dream.
What was your first show on Broadway and how was it?
I did Bye Bye Birdie in 2009. It was incredible. I actually went to the open call on a whim. I had never even auditioned for anything professionally. My dad came with me and we got there at like 5 am. There were thousands and thousands of people there and I got a call back. Finally after several call backs, I booked it and I was totally stunned because it was not where I expected my life to go, but there we go.
Tell our readers a bit more about Beautiful, other than it follows the life of Carole King.
Sure. It is really a great show. Our audiences are always so happy and with her on her journey throughout the show. She was at the forefront of a revolution and it’s a really important story, each day this story becomes more important because she was one of the first in her generation to be a working mother and to be, at 16, writing Top 40 hits with her husband Gerry Goffin, and simultaneously raising two little girls in Brooklyn. She was doing it all before doing it all was allowed. She killed it! We tell the first part of her life and stop when Tapestry comes out. The story that everyone thinks they know is where our story ends. We get to talk about the 1950’s and 60’s in NYC, writing music, it’s really spectacular.
Do you have a favorite song by Carole King?
I do. It’s not in the show, but Home Again from Tapestry is my favorite. You know, it just pulls my heart strings every time I listen to it.
How long have you been doing this show?
Combined with the time I spent doing it on Broadway, I’m coming up on two years.
Wow, so you know Carole as well as she does.
Pretty much. Actually, when I met her she was like “you must know more about me than I do.”
Is there added pressure to playing a character that is actually alive and can come to see the show?
Well, yes and no. I mean, there are some perks to it because when you are playing a fictional character, you have to invent the entire back story. When you are playing someone who is so well documented, (like King) you can read and absorb, and watch that person. There is so much “making up” that you don’t have to do. She’s a legend so you want to do her justice and tell her story, especially when she is in the audience.
If you could play any role in any show, what would you choose and why?
You know, I’m a little young for it still, but the baker’s wife in Into the Woods is a dream role of mine and has been for a while. My first theatre memory what so ever is seeing my mom play Cinderella and the Wolf in a production of Into the Woods when I was younger. So that show is so near and dear to my heart and I hope that someday there is a revival that I get the chance to do.
Tickets for Beautiful – The Carole King Musical are on sale now. To purchase tickets, visit www.arshtcenter.org, call 305.949.6722 or visit Arsht Center Box Office 1300 Biscayne Blvd. Miami, FL 33132. Ticket prices start at $35.