As longtime readers of these pages may recall, I've written about the actress Jessie Mueller several times, most notable here with a couple videos of her performances. I had seen her almost three years ago at the acclaimed by teensy Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Illinois -- a company that has two theaters, one in the back of a bookstore seating 50, and the "big stage" with a 140 seats in the Glencoe Women's Club...yet the main Chicago papers regular send their A-critics to review new productions, and even the New York Times and Wall Street Journal come to review shows.
Jessie Mueller had starred in a production of Harnick and Bock's She Loves Me and was just wonderful in the show, so much so that I've kept writing about her and talking about to to anyone who would trust my judgment. Then, she got a Tony nomination last year in the revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and was cast in a supporting role in the PBS Live from Lincoln Center production of Carousel. And I kept telling people that, really, honestly, this young actress I saw three years ago in a 140-seat theater was that good.
I just read that she has been starring on Broadway the past couple months in Beautiful, a jukebox musical based on the life of Carole King, using King's songs and others of that era -- and she plays...Carole King!
And if even that isn't enough for my three years of raves to be believed already, I pass along these words from Ben Brantley, the theater critic of the New York Times. It's important to know that he doesn't care for the show all that much, finding it too derivative of Jersey Boys and a bit bland throughout.
And then he writes --
This is where I officially say, "I told you so."
You can read the whole review here.
But far, far better, you can see her here, below, singing and playing the title song when she appeared on the Today Show. As Brantley notes above, she is not doing an impression, but evoking the singing and spirit of the character, while making it her own performance. And as she notes herself in the clip, she took piano lessons for the role -- so I'm guessing she didn't even play before this! Methinks she does one heckuva swell job at it all...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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