I saw Jessie Mueller in her Broadway debut, less than three years ago, and since then, she has proven herself a substantial talent.
|Jessie won the Jeff Award (Chicago's|
Tony) for She Loves Me, in a category in
which she was competing against her own
performance as Adelaide in Guys and Dolls.
She was already one of the leading ladies of the Chicago theatre scene (though success in the regions does not automatically mean equal success in New York) when she was pegged to play a supporting role in the revamped On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.
|I saw Mueller's Broadway debut right before it closed. This revival of On A Clear Day... changed kooky protagonist Daisy into kooky gay boy David, who was the reincarnation of a female big band singer. Harry Connick, Jr. fell in love with her, but not him. The show was a major disappointment, but our Jessie emerged smelling like a rose, and earned a Tony nod to boot. I wrote about seeing this show here.|
|I also saw this performance, with Mueller unrecognizable as|
the mysterious lady from Ceylon. The gent playing her twin
brother is Andy Karl, currently flexing his muscles as
Broadway's Rocky. I wrote about seeing this revival of The
Mystery of Edwin Drood here.
Jessie Mueller's current performance as Carole King has elevated her to the top tier of Broadway Leading Ladies, only a few years after arriving in New York. I have not seen Beautiful, but it would appear to have a long life, as long as Mueller stays with it. The show got even more publicity this week, when King's former husband and writing partner Gerry Goffin died. Most of the songs in the score of Beautiful are written by the duo, including this week's Dance Party.
This week's Dance Party comes from a performance given for the Today Show audience, and includes Mueller as King as well as actresses portraying the Shirelles.
I have a lot of respect for Carole King, whose music became part of my life when her album Tapestry was released in 1971. On it, she sang so many of the songs she had written for others; the album was a smash and a defining moment of her career. Apparently, Beautiful reveals the difficult time she had as an artist in the 50s and 60s, even as she was penning hit songs for the leading singers of the day. I hope I can see the show before Mueller inevitably moves on, particularly since I have a personal connection to one of the performers.
So, at long last, please enjoy this week's Dance Party: