The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

October 10, 2013

Musicals featuring female singer-songwriters swell


Other recent shows that showcased female singer-songwriters include “Forever Dusty” about Dusty Springfield that played off-Broadway last year and “Baby It’s You!” a 2011 jukebox musical on Broadway about Florence Greenberg, who managed the careers of several key figures in early rock ‘n’ roll.

Next month, Broadway sees the arrival of “Beautiful — the Carole King Musical,” which charts King’s life from age 16 to being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband, Gerry Goffin, and ends with the release of her groundbreaking solo album “Tapestry.”

Playwright Douglas McGrath set King’s music to the story of her relationship with her husband and fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. It also shines a light on a seismic shift in the music business when songwriters began writing for themselves and not just others.

Tony-nominated Jessie Mueller stars in the show, which is in San Francisco through Oct. 20. The wonderful score includes the songs “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” ‘‘Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman.”

“Unlike a lot of pop music, which can be fun but is kind of like a potato chip — it’s delightful and then you forget about it — in Carole and Gerry’s music and certainly in Barry and Cynthia’s music, too, there’s such a depth of feeling that it doesn’t feel like pop music,” McGrath says. “I think that’s why it’s lasted.”

McGrath says it’s fun to listen to the audience do double takes upon hearing hit after hit, whispering to their seatmates in disbelief: “She wrote that, too?” That sentiment seems to be driving all the new shows about singer-songwriters: remind and educate a new generation.

Bridgewater, who has recorded songs made famous by Ella Fitzgerald and Horace Silver, is hoping to reintroduce or even introduce her audience to the remarkable Holiday.

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