BACKSTAGE: 'Beautiful' Bushnell, Reg E. Cathey's New Haven Days, Tony Todd's Return

Joan Marcus photo

Joan Marcus photo

Making Something ‘Beautiful’

When Julia Knitel was 16, she was on Broadway in the revival of Bye Bye Birdie. That’s the age when singer-songwriter Carole King began composing pop hits starting in the ’60s.

Now the 23-year-old Knitel is starring in the tour of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which will play the Bushnell in Hartford from Jan. 17-22.

The musical follows King from her days as a shy Brooklyn teenager through her songwriting collaboration with husband Gerry Goffin, a friendly rivalry with the songwriters Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, and to King’s 1971 solo album, Tapestry, the landmark recording that became the soundtrack of a generation, including those of Knitel’s grandmother and mother.

Knitel says when her mother was in college as a classical voice major, “she would take her sheet music of Tapestry into the rehearsal room and block the windows so no one could see what she was playing, and she would play through the whole book.”

Knitel says King’s storied life is extraordinary but relatable in a personal way through her music. She is also finding personality similarities with King. “I especially relate to her sense of humor, her ability to look at the world with joy and try to make those around her happy.”

Beautifully put.


photo contributed

photo contributed

Cathey’s New Haven Days

Reg E. Cathey, the Emmy-winning actor of Netflix’s House of Cards, is co-starring with Connecticut native Brian Dennehy in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre, running Jan. 5-Feb. 5. I reminded him of his earlier days in New Haven when he was at the Yale School of Drama in the early ’80s and performing at the Yale Cabaret.

In one show by playwriting student OyamO (aka Charles F. Gordon, who is today a theater professor at the University of Michigan), he played in drag one of the prostitutes who hung out around the corner from the theater on Park Street. “We got to know the women over the course of the time,” he says, laughing. “But they never came to see the show.”