From the exuberance of “The Locomotion” and the playfulness of “Up on the Roof” to the uncertainty of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and, well, the certainty of “It’s Too Late,” those songs are all Carole King compositions.
The longing of “One Fine Day,” the wistfulness of “Take Good Care of My Baby,” the soaring sensuality of “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman” — that’s all King’s work too.
When audiences hear one familiar number after another in “Beautiful: the Carole King Musical,” and realize they all came from the prolific composer, “They start the whole show being so surprised,” actress/singer Sarah Bockel said. “You can almost hear them saying, ‘Oh, she wrote that … she wrote that.’”
“We start with her Carnegie Hall performance after she won a Grammy. Then we go back and explain how she got there,” said Bockel, who portrays the title character in a touring production that will visit the Scranton Cultural Center May 8 through 13. “We try to save the best for last.”
“The best” music, in Bockel’s opinion, comes from King’s 1971 album “Tapestry.”
“I love singing ‘It’s Too Late,’ though it’s a painful song,” she said. “It’s the first song we do from ‘Tapestry.’”
The musical shows how that song matched King’s sentiments regarding her break-up from her first husband, lyricist Gerry Goffin, who had been unfaithful to her.
On a happier note, the production also showcases many of the popular tunes King and Goffin created together in a small office in a “hit factory” on Broadway.
“I admire a lot of things about her,” Bockel said. “She’s become my superhero in my head. We tell the story from when she’s 16 to when she’s 29, and she had a lot of things come up in her life that really could have derailed her. She was pregnant at 16, married her high-school sweetheart, moved across the country from New York to Los Angeles and went out on her own to sing her own music. She could have given up so many times, but she didn’t.
“I admire her perseverance.”
Bockel hesitates to compare herself to King, but the actress has a certain tenacity too, spending 18 months with the production as an understudy before graduating to the lead role, which she has held since September.
The perks of participating in “Beautiful” include camaraderie with the rest of the cast — “We’re like a family of siblings,” Bockel said — and also getting the chance to meet King, who is now 76.
“She’s come up to the tour twice and she is just so nice and gracious,” Bockel said. “She gives us her blessing and she makes sure everybody gets a few seconds with her. She’ll say, ‘Everybody gets a selfie.’”
“She maintains that she’s a normal person, and she is a very normal person,” Bockel said. “She’s so personable.”
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.