For the first installment of the Billboard on Broadway podcast, the stars of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical – Chilina Kennedy, who plays King, and Jake Epstein, who plays her collaborator and former husband Gerry Goffin – chatted about the unique, immersive experience of telling the story of a still-living artist through a Broadway musical.
“It’s not really a jukebox musical – it’s a play with music,” says Kennedy, explaining that “you get to hear the songs as they’re being created — a lot of it takes place in right-now-time.” Kennedy had plenty of existent material to draw on in building her performance, while Epstein relied more on “finding the spirit of Gerry,” who also sang but whose performances are less well-preserved. “I find it fascinating that Gerry wrote these female empowerment anthems – ‘Natural Woman,’ ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ — and that informed how I created the character,” Epstein says.
Kennedy, who insists she “almost failed [her] pop-rock class in college,” and Epstein — an alum of DeGrassi: The Next Generation who recalls writing songs on set alongside Drake – will leave the show March 8. Listen to the full episode below, hosted by Rebecca Milzoff, which includes Kennedy’s in-office performances of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “Natural Woman.”