Connect with us

Arts & Culture

So Far Away

Out on tour, Julia Knitel finds groove portraying young Carole King Rumor has it that if you played Carole King’s chart entries back to back, you’d be listening to about five hours of music. Just the hits. For five hours. So it’s difficult to think that a musical of her life would be anything but [...]
Laura Dachenbach

Published

on

Out on tour, Julia Knitel finds groove portraying young Carole King

Rumor has it that if you played Carole King’s chart entries back to back, you’d be listening to about five hours of music. Just the hits. For five hours. So it’s difficult to think that a musical of her life would be anything but reductive. But Beautiful—The Carole King Musical, nominated for a Tony for Best Musical in 2014, has broken box office records and has sparked talk of a film adaptation, proving that even a small number of King’s songs can shape a big idea.

“People love her. They want to love her,” said Julia Knitel, who plays King in the national tour of Beautiful, coming to the Ohio Theatre this month. “The people that I meet at the stage door are all just so grateful to have had some time to listen to this  music, to be impacted by her again.”

Part jukebox musical, part biomusical, Beautiful tells the story of Carol Klein, a rebellious 16-year-old musical prodigy growing up in Brooklyn who becomes Carole King, one of the most expansive and timeless songwriters and performers of the latter half of the 20th century. Along the way, she emotionally and musically collaborates and competes with fellow artists Gerry Goffin, Cynthia Weil, and Barry Mann. Together, they write “the soundtrack of a generation.”

Knitel, a New Jersey native and lifelong performer, also began her professional Broadway career at 16 in Bye Bye Birdie and now plays Carole in Beautiful’s touring cast. At 24, she is the youngest woman who has played the role. But despite being a member of a generation hooked on Justin Bieber and Rhianna, Knitel feels a deep, if not genetic, connection to the music of the ’60s and ’70s.

“I grew up on the music,” explained Knitel, whose parents are both actors, musicians, and die-hard Carole King fans who raised their daughter on James Taylor, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, and The Monkees. “It was part of my DNA, growing up…so I’m spoiled growing up with really, really wonderful music.”

Beautiful spans from 1958 to 1971, focusing on the emotional journey King took to release Tapestry, her first solo album. The journey contains many of the darker moments of King’s life, particularly in her marriage to Gerry Goffin, a relationship that produced more than two dozen chart hits, but also ended in heartbreak.

“It was a challenge for her,” said Knitel, referring not only to King’s tumultuous relationships, but also the way that her career was hidden, either by songwriting for others or by putting her career aside to take care of her children before she became a solo performer in her own right. “But at the same time she persevered, and she forged a path that I am fortunate enough to follow. I think it’s important for women my age especially, to hear her story and to be thankful for what she’s done for us.”

Young and musical and thrilled to be on tour, sharing music with different cities each week, Knitel has fallen quite easily in the footsteps of King’s younger self.

“I think I bring a different perspective to Carole. She was a dork,” Knitel laughed. “She was a kid who was obsessed with music and obsessed with playing music and writing music and dissecting music. And I think I’m a little bit of a dork, too. So it’s fun to bring out that side of both of us every night.”

On portraying a character who has a real, living, legendary counterpart, Knitel seems unfazed by expectations or potential comparisons. If anything, Knitel welcomes the parallels drawn between her and King with a certain eagerness; King is, in Knitel’s words, “still rockin’ and rollin’” through her music and activism.

“It’s a fine line because her voice is so iconic,” explained Knitel, who dug into the vast amount of video, audio, and reading material available about King in preparation for the role. “If I didn’t sound anything like her, I think there would be an uproar. But at the same time, she wasn’t a singer first and it’s about her music and…the creators have been very clear with me that it’s not about doing a note-for-note impersonation. It’s about my own interpretation.”

That interpretation has been garnering Knitel some spectacular reviews, as well as a stamp of approval from the show’s renowned inspirational figure. King stopped in to visit  the Broadway company of Beautiful, of which Knitel was a member at the time, to celebrate its 1,000th performance.

“But then she came to see me play her in Boise, Idaho because she’s got a farm outside there. I got to meet her before the show, which was overwhelming because I knew she was in the audience,” said Knitel with a bit of understandable giddiness to her voice.

“But she was very kind and seemed to be very proud, and liked my take on it.”

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: See BalletMet live outdoors!

614now

Published

on

SPONSORED

BalletMet’s Friday night’s headline performance at 8:30 p.m. at the Arts Festival is sure to be a highlight of weekend. One of the nation’s top 20 largest professional companies, BalletMet consists of dancers hailing from across the nation and the world and boasts a premiere academy for aspiring professional dancers, one that’s been recognized as an institution of local and national stature.

Since 1978, BalletMet has brought incredible dance to theaters in Central Ohio and beyond and their commitment to bringing dance to the Columbus community, especially in underserved areas, is unparalleled.

Art of War Photo by Jen Zmuda

From in-school programs to theater field trips, scholarships and free performances, the company is dedicated to making dance accessible to all. More than 10,000 children attend the company’s Morning at the Ballet field trip performances each year. And thanks to a grant from PNC Arts Alive, BalletMet’s second company, BalletMet 2, has performed at free events at the King Arts Complex, Franklin Park Conservatory and more, throughout the 2018-19 season.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

In addition to the free performance at the Arts Festival BalletMet will perform at Dance on Dakota on Friday, May 10, from 5 to 8 p.m. in Franklinton. This performance is also free.

Dance on Dakota, co-hosted by Franklinton Arts District, is part of a weekend-long block party in Franklinton and features free food and drink and a collaborative performance with TRANSIT ARTS. The event will take place at Dakota Ave. and Town St.

Dancers Grace Anne Powers and William Newton Photo by Jen Zmuda

BalletMet’s Columbus Arts Festival performance will include a mixed repertoire of shorter pieces from its past productions and will be preceded by music from DJ Donnie M. of Damn Girl.

And if these performances capture your interest, the company recently announced its 2019-20 season, which includes ALICE, based on the later stories of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll, Twisted 3, a collaboration with the Columbus Symphony and Opera Columbus, and, of course, The Nutcracker.

More info at www.balletmet.org. For all your Arts Festival details visit www.colubmusartsfestival.org

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: You wood hate to miss local crafter

614now

Published

on

SPONSORED

Woodworker and Art Makes Columbus featured artist Devon Palmer has been working with his hands since his upbringing in northeast Indiana. His mother a wood carver and his father a carpenter and cabinet maker, Palmer took a more mechanical route by obtaining his pilot’s license and attending Purdue University to pursue a career as an airplane mechanic.

But as his career transitioned from maintenance to the tech field, he yearned to work with his hands again. Originally he considered pottery, before a class he planned to attend got canceled. But a trip home the weekend before Thanksgiving led to his father introducing him to woodturning.

That was more than 15 years ago. And though he is largely self-taught, Palmer also credits local woodturners from the Central Ohio Woodturners (a chapter of the American Association of Woodturners) for taking him under their wing. In 2005, he opened his first studio just north of Downtown, and in 2007 he began teaching woodturning at Woodcraft Columbus.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Today, Palmer does a bit of mentoring of his own. He teaches classes in blade and bowl turning, resin cast pen turning and more advanced projects like hollow vessel turning in his studio at the Idea Foundry. He is also adding a series of LGBTQ date night pen turning classes to his growing schedule of classes, shows and demonstrations.

Palmer says his work represents “family and connectedness” with work ranging from salad bowls and laser engraved pens to funerary urns and ornaments. The details in his hand-crafted tableware and home goods manage to invoke a warm sense of community, fellowship, and hospitality.

Devon Palmer works in internet technology and is also a pianist and ordained minister.

Make your own wood turned pen with Devon Palmer at the Columbus Arts Festival, June 7-9, at the Big Local Art Village located at the Festival’s Franklinton entrance. Learn more about Devon at www.columbusmakesart.com/stories/devon-palmer and get all your Arts Festival details at www.columbusartsfestival.org

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

Arts Festival Preview: Dr. E uses voice to overcome adversity

614now

Published

on

SPONSORED POST

Dr. E, singer-songwriter and author Cleveland-born singer-songwriter Dr. Elaine Richardson — known by her stage name Dr. E — has used her voice to detail the incredible circumstances she encountered while overcoming great adversity. Born to a musician father and Jamaican immigrant mother, Dr. E begun tapping into her talent while singing in church, her school’s choir, and in girl groups.

Dr. E continued to sing despite the difficult path she faced. As a teen, she became a sex trafficking victim and fell into addiction. In her recovery, she pursued higher education at Cleveland State University and Michigan State University. During this time Dr. E also began performing as the frontwoman for a number of cover bands and placing her original music on various TV shows. She recorded her first album, “Elevated,” in 2010.

Dr. E’s introspective song lyrics reflect the often difficult process of healing while defending those who share her experiences or face exploitation and discrimination in other ways.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

On her sophomore album, 2017’s “Songs for the Struggle,” she gives a soulful retelling of her journey from sex trafficking survivor to university professor, Ph.D., author and advocate. Blending elements of soul, rock, funk, rhythm and blues, and jazz, Dr. E sings with an astonishing amount of hope and positivity; Though the album details the trauma and exploitation experienced by Dr. E during her teen years, her power message ultimately expresses affirmations of self-love and acceptance employed with an equally powerful and joyous voice.

Dr. E is currently a professor of literacy studies in the College of Education at The Ohio State University. She has written a number of books on African American literature as well as a memoir, “PHD to Ph.D.: How Education Saved My Life.”

See Dr. E. perform at the Columbus Arts Festival, Saturday, June 8 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on the Big Local Stage on Rich St.

For hours, artist listing and all Festival information go to www.columbusartsfestival.org

Continue Reading
X