“Beautiful” review: Skin deep

Musical based on the life of songwriter Carole King sacrifices authentic drama for Broadway bombast

Scott Fitzgerald, who famously claimed there were no second acts in American lives, never met Carole King. The Brooklyn-born teenager vaulted to fame by co-writing a slew of ‘60s hits for various bands, beginning with the Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” in 1960. As rock grew more ambitious, her reputation faded along with those of other early-mid ’60s singles hitmakers — until she re-emerged in LA’s fertile early-1970s Laurel Canyon scene with her breakthrough Tapestry album, a much more personal statement featuring King’s own voice and piano that helped kickstart the singer-songwriter era.

After that second act, King moved to what the B-52s called her own private Idaho to be closer to the land and farther from celebrity culture. Her music made little public impression until the last few years, when she returned for an extended encore: her Live at the Troubadour nostalgia album and tour with James Taylor and their original LA band; her 2010 memoir A Natural Woman; a release of the classic demos she made made in the 1960s for performers like the Drifters and the Monkees who turned her songs into hits; and the 2013 musical Beautiful, now headed for the big screen in a Tom Hanks production, and whose national tour alights this weekend at Portland’s Keller Auditorium.