Chilina Kennedy is Beautiful's next Carole King
The producers of Beautiful: the Carole King Musical have announced that Chilina Kennedy will take over the role of Carole King at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre from 7 March 2015, taking over the role from Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller who departs the show on 6 March 2015.
Director Marc Bruni said of the news: "After seeing her excel over the years as the preeminent leading lady of Canada's Stratford Festival, I'm thrilled to welcome Chilina back to Broadway...She's a unique talent, and I can't wait for the audiences at the Sondheim to experience the warmth, vulnerability, and humility Chilina will bring to the role".
It was also announced that Jessica Keenan Wynn will take over the role of Cynthia Weil from 7 March 2015, taking over from Anika Larsen who will depart the show temporarily for maternity leave.
Chilina Kennedy recently played the title role in 'Mary Poppins' at Theatre Aquarius. Her last appearance on Broadway was as Mary Magdalene in 'Jesus Christ Superstar', which also ran at the Stratford Festival of Canada and the La Jolla Playhouse. She originated the role of Phoebe D’Ysquith in 'A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder' at Hartford Stage and the Old Globe Theater and starred as Sophie Sheridan in the 1st US National Tour of Mamma Mia!.
Jessica Keenan Wynn made her off-Broadway debut in the musical adaptation of the cult-classic film 'Heathers', starring as Heather Chandler at New World Stages. Previously, she toured the US and Canada in the 25th Anniversary Production of 'Les Misérables'.
They will join the current cast that also includes Scott J. Campbell as ‘Gerry Goffin’, Jarrod Spector as 'Barry Mann', Paul Anthony Stewart as 'Don Kirshner', Liz Larsen as 'Genie Klein', and an ensemble that includes Gisela Adisa, Ashley Blanchet, E. Clayton Cornelious, Joshua Davis, Kevin Duda, James Harkness, Aisha Jackson, Sara King, Rebecca LaChance, Douglas Lyons, Chris Peluso, Gabrielle Reid, Rashidra Scott, Sara Sheperd, Yasmeen Sulieman, Daniel Torres, Melvin Tunstall and Alan Wiggins.
Beautiful: the Carole King Musical opened at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on 12 January 2014, following previews from 21 November 2013. It is now taking bookings through to 24 May 2015.
The musical opened on Broadway to generally positive reviews, with most critics praising the music and performances whilst finding the book ad staging weak: "Friendly, formulaic bio-musical" (NY Times); "Marc Bruni’s production only occasionally resurrects the bubbly verve and energy of those glorious songs"(NYP); "If you go to "Beautiful" for the songs, you'll probably have a great time. Just don't expect anything more"(Record).
It received two Tony Awards at the 2014 ceremony, including Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for the show's star Jesse Mueller who sang live with Carole King at the awards.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical "charts the rise of the famous singer-songwriter as she goes from being Carol Klein, a simple girl from Brooklyn to an international recording artist. It shows her fighting her way into the record business as a teenager and, by the time she reached her twenties, had the husband of her dreams and a career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll."
The musical features music by Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil with a book by Douglas McGrath. It is produced on Broadway by Paul Blake and Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and features direction by Marc Bruni, design by Derek McLane, sound design by Brian Ronan, lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski, choreography by Josh Prince and costumes by Alejo Vietti.