Abby Mueller has the voice. She has the piano skills. But Mueller, who plays singer/songwriter Carole King in “Beautiful — the Carole King Musical,” coming to the Kennedy Center, lacks just one thing.
“I don’t have anything remotely like Carole King’s hair,” Mueller says of King’s curly, leonine mane. “I’ve always wanted hair like that. But I have straight hair.”
“Beautiful” uses King’s music — hits such as “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “I Feel the Earth Move” — to tell her own life story. The musical is largely concerned with King’s early career as part of a successful husband-and-wife songwriting team. The American public knew the songs (you could probably sing them right now), but they didn’t know who was behind the music.
Even though it’s not every day that one plays a character who’s not only real, but well-known and still living, Mueller didn’t prepare for the role much differently than she would for any other.
“I approach it trying to look for the honesty and truth of whoever I’m playing,” she says. “It’s just now I’m playing this legend and icon and coolest lady ever.”
To play the coolest lady ever, Mueller did have to adopt some of King’s mannerisms — forming her vowels differently while singing, for example — for an accurate performance.
“It’s like you’re cooking a stew, there’s a little Abby, a little Carole. And hopefully we’ve cooked up something delicious.”
The Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW; Tue.-Oct. 25, $39-$175.
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