Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Returns to Philadelphia

[Dylan Wallach and Sarah Bockel as Carole King and Gerry Goffin]

Music is clearly a universal language that transports us to a place and time where we first heard a melody or a song and we associate that song with that memory.

So when we sit in the audience and listen to Dylan Wallach portray the icon songwriter Gerry Goffin croon the love song Up on the Roof, we might just remember hearing that tune as a teenager, newlywed or new parent.

From the many pop classics Carole King and Goffin wrote for the biggest acts in the music business, to King’s own life-changing, chart-busting success with Tapestry, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical takes us back where it all began – and it is the ride of a lifetime.

Beautiful returns to the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music on Tuesday, Jan. 8, through Sunday, Jan. 20.

Featuring over two dozen pop classics, including You’ve Got a Friend, One Fine Day, Up on the Roof, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, and Natural Woman, this crowd-pleasing international phenomenon is filled with the songs you remember – and a story you’ll never forget.

Wallach has worked off-Broadway, in Toronto and the New York Music Theatre Festival. His television credits include Netflix’s Master of None and Lewis Helfer’s indie pilot, My Building.

“Gerry was a phenomenal lyricist who had the ability to write simple and catchy lyrics that had enormous feeling and depth behind them,” says Wallach. “I’m honored to play one of the best to ever do it.”

Wallach is thrilled to be making his national tour debut. To meet  Carole King, and see how she embraces the show, and the performers, to such a great degree, was clear music to Wallach’s ears.

So, Carol King watched your performance in California and sang with you and your leading lady before the final bows. Please tell me about that.

Dylan Wallach: Meeting Carole King was amazing. We had gone off stage right last fall at the beginning of the tour and our stage manager told me and Sarah Bockel that Carole King was in the audience and was coming on stage to sing with us. Sarah had met Carole a few times but had never performed for her.

I cannot imagine the emotions both of you were feeling to not only meet but sing, with such an icon whose work was the soundtrack of millions of our lives growing up in the 60s-80s.

[Dylan Wallach as Gerry Goffin in Beautiful]

Yes, yes, yes. It was indescribable. Carole walked on stage with her daughter, Louise Goffin, and we all sang I Feel the Earth Move. Carole was so kind and so humble and we had the chance to meet and talk about the show. Louise told me that watching my performance was like re-experiencing her father that was such a high compliment. The entire event was really special.

How familiar were you with Gerry Goffin and Carole King and their music?

Before taking the role. I wasn’t that familiar with Gerry, but I knew a lot about Carole King and her music because my mom looks exactly like Carole. I had seen many photos throughout the years.

When did you first audition for Beautiful?

I first auditioned for a workshop of Beautiful when I was a senior in college and have been auditioning on and off for five years. So I am more than happy that it finally worked out.

What is it like to play the award-winning songwriter Gerry Goffin?

It’s a great acting opportunity. He was a pretty complicated guy and over the course of the show, things definitely get harder for him. He was suffering from manic depression which is now called bipolar disease. When you tell his story there is a huge arc that takes place over a 10-year span.

What do you love about this show?

I think especially now in our country and the world, this is the story of an empowered woman, It’s so important right now. Her story is incredible. The courage and brilliance it took to do what she did. Many of us didn’t know that she wrote all of these songs. So I see the show as her journey – with all of the songs made famous by the Drifter’s Shirelles and the Righteous Brothers. So it is inspiring and it is great music. You have been involved in the show since the end of August, so how do you keep it fresh?

I still find new stuff during every show. Especially, in a musical, you don’t always find such complicated three-dimensional characters that we have in Beautiful. We are pretty lucky to have a play like this within a musical.

How do you celebrate the holidays on the road?

We have on the road for this tour since the end of August, so that’s four months. We didn’t have a day off for Christmas, we were in Washington, D.C. We had a little celebration with Secret Santa and a nice holiday party.

Have you spent any time in Philadelphia before?

I came with my dad when I was a senior in high school to audition for the University of the Arts. We spent a few fun days there, and I am looking forward to going back.

Are you the only member of your member in show business?

My dad’s main focus was psychotherapy, but he was also a screenwriter so I consider them a very creative man. My mom is a therapist, but is also a painter and plays the piano. My sister used to be an actress, so I followed her into the business.

When/how did you become a musical theater performer?

I don’t know. I went to Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh for acting. As a kid, I had a hard time with dance and following dance steps. I love to sing, but I didn’t like that aspect of dance. So I went to school for acting. I was going out for musicals because I like to sing and I ended up played Danny in Grease in Toronto, and I had to dance. It turns out that the guy who directed it was the choreographer for Beautiful. I don’t think of myself as a musical theater person, but that’s what I’ve been doing recently. My character in this show doesn’t dance at all and I appreciate it.

Who is coming to see you on tour in Beautiful?

My dad passed away. My mom lives in New Hampshire and some of my family is out in California. I grew up in Maine. My mom has seen the show seven times.

Aren’t moms wonderful for all of their support?

Absolutely. She came to see the show when we opened in Denver, then came to L.A. and she came again in D.C.

What do you want to do in the future?

I want to continue to tour with Beautiful. I also write a TV series with my best friend and we are trying to get it off the ground. We shot the pilot last fall and have a pitch packet for producers. I want to be able to create my own work, and hopefully find people to make it happen. So I’d like to do more TV and film, but also do my own TV.  This was a blast to write and we believe in this project. It also helps me as an actor. Instead of just auditioning and waiting for the phone to ring, I started to work more as an actor.

What is the pilot about?

Out of work actors, we are male nannies or “Mannies.” My friend and I met a few years before on Master of None on Netflix. I was acting and he was on the production side, and then we met again as “Mannies” on a play date and then he started writing the show and wrote 200 pages.

Why should people come to see Beautiful?

For the people who haven’t already seen it, there’s always new stuff to discover. This is a pretty fresh cast, with some who joined in September and two are brand new. The show always changes and has a new personality, that’s a good reason to come back.

And if you have already seen the show why come back?

If you know a little bit about Carole King, you will know so much more after seeing this show. You will want to listen to more music from that time period. It’s pretty inspiring, and I know that you can connect to it in a lot of different ways.

Do you have advice to up and coming performers?

I think you should try to stay creative as much as you possibly can, even if you are not working. You need to continue to stretch that muscle. I think it’s like an athlete during the offseason. So start creating your own work, anything to keep you fresh and inspired, and in turn that will help your auditioning. You won’t feel as desperate for the job if you feel fulfilled as an artist.

Do you have a favorite song in the show?

My favorite song of Carole’s is It’s Too Late, and the favorite that I sing in the show is Up On The Roof.

To purchase tickets, visit  call (215) 893-1999, or visit the Kimmel Center Box Office.

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