This is a real treat.
Every year, the shows playing on Broadway participate on a fundraiser, Broadway Cares, where each show raises money for AIDS after a performance of their individual slow. And as part of that, the cast of the previously oft-mentioned Beautiful got together on stage to perform and do their bit.
The show, as I've noted, is the story of singer-songwriter Carole King, and stars Jessie Mueller. As Mueller had mentioned in interviews, she never had the opportunity to meet Carole King while preparing to play her. In fact, King had never even seen the show.
And completely unknown to the cast as they gather on stage and prepare to raise money, Carole King was there...and comes out on stage. Where they all get to meet her for the first time. In particular, Jessie Mueller finally gets to meet the woman who she plays. You can seen from their expression that everyone is beside themselves to see her there among them. And thrilled that she actually saw the show, unbeknownst to them all. But the stunned, overjoyed face of Jessie Mueller is something else. (You can see her for the first time at the 23-second mark, wearing a floor-length, purple floral hippie dress -- just to the right of center.) And then Carole King pulls her aside to meet one-on-one. And then she gets to sing together with King. You can see from every pore of her body that she's in heaven, unbelieving and probably almost about to faint. Her reaction after King joins her after her solo a joy. (I think it's notable, too, that although she's the star of the show, and the woman she plays is right there among them all, Mueller doesn't hog the moment, but a) understands who the star of that moment is, and b) clearly believes that this is an ensemble.
Though not quite the same thing, I had an occasion to meet Carole King in her home. I was invited to a political fundraiser where Ted Kennedy was the guest speaker. (Actually, rather than speak, he and his wife sang a song! With lyrics rewritten for the occasion.) Afterwards, most of the guests had left, but my friend who brought me lingered around, and he was friends with the fellow Carole King was with -- as was I -- so we stood around and chatted. And yes, it was memorable, and a treat.
What I remember particularly was how low-key and self-effacing she was. I particularly remember her talking about not being very computer literate and never ever going on Carole King chat rooms, but finally her curiosity got the better of her, so she finally did. And amid all these adoring fans, she couldn't convince any of them that she was actually Carole King. Finally, one girl gave her a test and asked her what she was wearing at some particular big concert. "I had no idea," she said, "but this girl did! All these people knew more about me than I did!" She was laughing. "The girl was convinced that that proved I wasn't me."
Well, this below proves she is her.
The video above is much better than the one below. Above, it includes the surprise and, being wide angle, you see more of everybody. And it's well-edited. But the singing is edited. So, for those of you who want to see the full joint-performance -- and it's very enjoyable -- here is that below.
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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