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Carole King herself hit the Radio City Music Hall stage to perform “I Feel the Earth Move” with Jessie Mueller and the cast of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at the Tony Awards on Sunday.
The iconic singer-songwriter introduced a performance of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” by Mueller and Beautiful co-star Jake Epstein before hitting the stage with Mueller for a rousing rendition of “I Feel the Earth Move.”
Written by Douglas McGrath and directed by Marc Bruni, Beautiful depicts the emergence in the 1960s of King and Gerry Goffin as a legendary pop songwriting team, alongside their best friends and fellow tunesmiths Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. While the Broadway biomusical was developed with King’s full cooperation and endorsement, the singer-songwriter previously said in interviews before it opened in January that she had no plans to see it, finding the prospect of reliving her early years and her turbulent marriage to Goffin too painful.
However, she surprised the cast in April by joining them onstage after the show, telling the audience that nobody in the cast knew she was coming and calling the show “effing awesome!” She stimulated audience donations for the charity Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS by auctioning an impromptu singalong performance of her hit “You’ve Got a Friend” with the entire cast.
Beautiful nabbed seven Tony nominations, including best musical, lead actress (Mueller), book of a musical (Douglas McGrath), featured actor (Jarrod Spector), featured actress (Anika Larsen), sound design (Brian Ronan) and orchestrations (Steve Sidwell). The production officially opened at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on Jan. 12 to generally positive reviews and is shaping up to be the sleeper hit of the season, grossing $25 million to date.
The Tonys broadcast also included a 10th anniversary celebration of Wicked and previews of upcoming productions Finding Neverland and The Last Ship, as well as performances from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Violet, If/Then, Aladdin, Les Miserables, After Midnight, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, Bullets Over Broadway and Rocky, among others.
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