After an 18 month hiatus, BEAUTIFUL – The Carole King Musical is back on tour! We asked some of the cast members about life on the road, what it’s like to travel with such an iconic show, and what audiences can expect. Rachel Coloff plays Genie Klein – Carole King’s mother – in the show that’s playing Juanita K. Hammons Hall this weekend.
RACHEL COLOFF (Genie). B’way: Fruma Sarah/Shandel, Yente U/S, Fiddler on the Roof, Ensemble/Swing, Candide, Hal Prince director, Mrs. Snoring Man/Martha U/S, 2015 Nat’l Tour of White Christmas, Gabrielle U/S, ensemble, Lestat, and originated Soupy Sue in Urinetown. Off-B’way; Mrs. Hatch, Mrs. Welles, On A Clear Day… at Irish Rep, Old Jews Telling Jokes, Cardinal Franco in Popesical, The Modiste in I Married an Angel, City Center Encores. Regional; Rose in Mamma Mia! at Arrow Rock, Golde in Fiddler at Human Race Theatre and Yente in Fiddler at Barrington Stage.
What was your path to becoming a professional actor?
I decided to take an acting class in Jr. High instead of trying to be a cheerleader. I had a great teacher and went forward from there.
After college, I did a show in Seattle with a few people I knew and it was a big hit, as hits go in Seattle. And I sort of hit a ceiling after about five years. Then, I went to New York and kicked around for about a year. Then, in 1997, I did my first B’way show, Candide, but it was another four years before I did a B’way show again.
What was the audition process like for this show?
I went in for Genie, and was told I was in the “ballpark,” and then I didn’t hear anything for a few weeks and figured I was no longer “in the ballpark.” But then, on my way back from a choral tour in Montreal, I got an email saying that (director) Marc Bruni would like me to audition. I could only send in a self-tape so I rushed to my agent’s office and filmed it there. A few weeks later, I got the news that I was cast and I was thrilled.
What’s your favorite part about touring the country with BEAUTIFUL?
I love discovering how each town has decided to build a theatre and in what particular architectural style. Some are Moorish and others Art Nouveau or Beaux Arts, some very modern and We have been in so many once-bustling, manufacturing towns that revitalized their downtown areas by renovating their beautiful theatres. In Bartlesville, OK, they have the Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel and the spaceship/merry-go-round theatre, the vision of Wright’s protege, William Wesley Peters. The best, though, was the Palace Theatre in Huntington, WV: The Palace theatre was built ca. 1927, opened to great fanfare. In 1937, there was a catastrophic flood, killed 400 people and flooded the theatre right up to the edge of the stage. When we performed there in 2019, EVERYTHING below the stage remained the same as it was in 1937, after the theatre dried out. During my breaks, (and there are many) I went downstairs and took photos of everything I could, until…someone said, “Uh, can I help you?” It was the manager of the theatre, who kindly gave me the history of the building, the flood and their plans for the future. I was incredibly moved by the story and the fact that they were still, after decades, trying to get the funds together to get the theatre renovated. In fact, the peeling, ochre-colored paint on all the walls was the original paint from 1927!
So, yeah, my favorite part of touring is the history of the physical buildings themselves.
What has it been like to return to the stage after a nearly two-year break?
Hearing a live audience laugh is life-affirming. We are all so incredibly grateful to see and hear real, live humans sitting in the theatre, laughing, clapping, even gasping at the story we tell.
What do you enjoy most about performing BEAUTIFUL every night?
The best part about performing this show every night is no matter how you’re feeling, no matter your circumstances or beliefs for that day…for two hours and 30 minutes, we get to experience the highest form of joy and love through Carole’s music. As artists, there is no better feeling.
What’s something that will surprise audiences about this show?
There are several “surprises” in the show. Who knew that the person who wrote “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” was written by a teenager? Who knew the lyrics to the song that so many associate with the Vietnam war was written by a woman? On a very serious note, I’m sure many audience members didn’t know that Gerry Goffin suffered from mental illness. And I’m sure most people don’t realize that Carole King’s performance at Carnegie Hall was her first public performance and she wasn’t even 30 years old!
Favorite Carole King song?
“Jazz Man” and “Sweet Seasons.” They’re not in the show, unfortunately.
What item can’t you live without while on tour?
I can’t live without good, single-origin, coffee that I grind myself and make in my hotel room! Also, an actual glass to drink wine from–I don’t like to drink from a plastic cup.
If you weren’t an actor, what profession would you pursue?
If I weren’t an actor, I’d love to pursue interior design.
My dream role: Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd.
You have two more chances to see Rachel and the rest of the BEAUTIFUL company in Springfield – Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets are available online, by calling 417-836-7678, or by visiting the Hammons Hall box office. See you at the show!