Our day started off with some clouds as we drove into Manhattan for a Thursday matinee. NYC and rain are not a good combination, but as we approached the Triboro Bridge (I just can't get used to calling it the RFK Bridge), we saw the clouds starting to open up, with the hope of a sunny day ahead. And sure enough, by the time we had made it cross town to the west side into the theatre district, the sun was, in fact out and shining! We parked around the corner from the Stephen Sondheim theatre, on 44th street, which situated us perfectly for the show and our dinner destination after the show. Strolling leisurely, we made it to the theatre in plenty of time and took some fun photos out in front before heading in.
Then the lights went down and out walked this adorable, curly-haired Carole King look alike (Jessie Mueller) in a vibrant blue flowered dress. At once, she sat at the piano, and talking to the audience, she appeared just as anyone would expect Ms. King herself to look sitting in front of a keyboard - completely at home. And her comfort level was no acting job, for in a matter of minutes, Ms. Mueller was playing that piano and singing with the ease and familiarity of someone who might have written the song. With the first notes and words sung to So Far Away, I was transformed back to my living room, listening to my mom's Carole King album - the voice, the inflections; were quite distinctly the singer whose story we came to see. We weren't hearing a Broadway show voice, but instead, the soft, soulful, mellow singing of Carole King.
My mom was loving it!! She was filling me in with tidbits here and there about Carole King that she had acquired through the years, following her in interviews and television concerts, and feeling almost like a soul-sister to her, being contemporaries from the same generation.
Our day was not complete as we walked over to 44th street for dinner, recounting the amazing show we had just experienced. We both agreed that Jessie Mueller absolutely deserved a Tony for her performance, which not only included singing, dancing and acting (the usual and customary "triple threat" in show business) but, for her added talent of playing piano throughout this musical. I must say, I walked away awe struck. Jarrod Spector, who played Barry Mann, was also amazing with his musical abilities throughout, hitting both the keyboards and the guitar with great ease.