The setting: the final Sunday evening performance of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” at Fresno’s Saroyan Theatre.
The special audience members: In the crowd were none other than the real-life Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, famed composer-lyricist team that wrote such tunes as “Uptown” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” who are major characters in “Beautiful.”
Behind-the-scenes: I caught up with Fresno City College’s Julie Dana, who was in the audience, for the inside scoop. Her husband, Mike, found out early: He was playing in the pit orchestra, and the conductor told the instrumentalists there would be changes in the “bows” music at the end of the show so that Mann and Weil could be acknowledged. The cast wasn’t informed they were there beforehand.
The announcement: Sarah Goeke, who plays Weil in the show, stepped forward after the bows to let people know that Mann and Weil were in the audience. The crowd roared.
The photo: Julie happened to be sitting in front of them in the theater, and she took a couple of pics with her phone. She knew she’d gotten a great shot. I’ll let her pick up the story:
I went over to ask someone with them (who ended up being their daughter Jenn) if I could share the photo with them.They, especially Barry Mann, were delightful. Mike and I first saw the show in San Francisco and were floored by the number of songs that they wrote and that we LOVED. I had no idea until then! So I mentioned it must be pretty gratifying to to see such an outpouring of enthusiasm for their music by a new generation. Barry said that they had no idea when they wrote those songs that they would still be popular now. He was super excited …. So I asked for a photo with them.
The takeaway: For the Danas and others in the audience, the closing night of the Fresno run of “Beautiful” turned out to be something they’d never forget. As Julie puts it: “It was pretty exciting to be in the presence of such historical, and lesser known, musical genius!”
Tuesday is ‘One Fine Day’ for Carole King fans: Broadway in Fresno brings the national tour of ‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” to the Saroyan
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