Chilina Kennedy and Liam Tobin have played their respective roles for some time, but never together. See full article here: https://goo.gl/kxGrzG.
Two days of rehearsal were all Canadian actors Chilina Kennedy and Liam Tobin got before taking the stage Tuesday night in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
Luckily, the pair have performed their roles for some time — she as King and he as her former husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin — although never together.
Kennedy has played King for two years on Broadway. Tobin originated the role of Goffin in the show’s touring production.
“All of a sudden the show you’ve been doing the same way for the past year is completely different. And in a good way,” Tobin said. “We’re finding the way our Carole and Gerry work together. It’s really fresh for the audience, seeing people falling in love onstage actually for the first time.”
The actors aren’t completely unfamiliar with each other as they both starred in the musical South Pacific for Drayton Entertainment in 2014. But they didn’t have a lot of stage time together, Tobin said: She played nurse Nellie Forbush; he was Lieutenant Cable.
Both were attracted by the characters to Beautiful, which chronicles the life of American singer-songwriter King, who has written some of the biggest pop music songs ever, including “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “It Might as Well Rain Until September.”
Tobin said he respected Goffin’s “drive and ambition and his perfectionism,” as he was always striving for his lyrics to “make an impact and say something with his song.” For Kennedy, it was King’s “kindness and her goodness.”
“It’s a story about love and I think she embodies that version of love that we all kind of aim for, that egoless love and that sense of being able to forgive herself and others,” Kennedy said.
Despite their past experience playing King and Goffin, the pair said they’re anything but bored of the roles. According to Kennedy, the role continues to “deepen” for her.
“I always describe it as a yoga practice. You come back to the mat everyday,” Kennedy said. “Even though it’s the same thing over and over again it never gets boring because you come at it with a fresh perspective and new energy.”
Each has also had the chance to meet the real person behind the show.
Kennedy recalled receiving an email from King, informing her she would be attending the musical.
“I got an email and it was from Carole and I was like, ‘I don’t have any friends named Carole. Oh my God, it’s Carole King,’ ” Kennedy said. “I wrote back, ‘Dear Ms. King, please do not tell me when you’re coming because I will fall over.’ ”
Tobin also met King when she attended the touring production. The singer came in disguise, a precaution taken so the audience would not watch her watching the show, according to Tobin.
“She was very cool, kind and gracious,” Tobin said. “She was kind of everything you would hope she would be.”
Kennedy and Tobin, born in Oromocto, N.B., and St. John’s, N.L. respectively, said they’re both thrilled to be back in Canada. Tobin has settled into an apartment with his partner and dog, while Kennedy has received messages from old friends, teachers and acquaintances telling her they’re coming to see her in the show.
Kennedy and Tobin hope Torontonians take away the same thing from the musical that past audience members have.
“People who know Carole King, who have lived through that time and tapestry, if they were driving across the country with their friends and listening to ‘You’ve Got a Friend,’ I hope they are taken back to a time that feels good to them,” Kennedy said.
Tobin believes audiences will be able to relate their own lives to the story, as “they have troubles in their marriage just like a lot of people do; they have troubles in their work just like a lot of people do.” But mostly, he believes audiences will connect with King’s perseverance throughout her struggles.
“It’s a strong woman in a male-dominated industry. And especially today, in today’s political climate, I think it’s important we have an awesome story of a strong woman overcoming career odds stacked against her.”
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical runs until Sept. 3. at the Ed Mirvish Theatre, 244 Victoria St. See mirvish.com or call 416-872-1212 for tickets.