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Now showing, Closes 24 May 2015

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2014 Tony Winner

2014 Tony Winner

"Beautiful" is a gift. Be sure to stay for the encore if you want to feel the earth move under your feet.

San Francisco Chronicle.

Buy Tickets For Beautiful: The Carole King MusicalBuy Tickets

BWW Exclusive: Interview With BEAUTIFUL on Broadway's Newest Star Chilina Kennedy

Canadian-born triple threat Chilina Kennedy couldn't help but "feel the earth move" today. The reason was the official announcement she will replace Chicago Tony Award-winner Jessie Mueller as Carole King in the smash hit Broadway juke box musical "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical." Her first performance will be March 7th.

She earned the role following open casting calls that were held across the USA to find Mueller's replacement.

She joins fellow Canadian Scott Campbell who plays King's collaborator and husband, the late Gerry Goffin. Also joining the cast with Kennedy on March 7th is Jessica Keenan Wynn who will make her Broadway debut as Barry Mann's songwriting partner and wife Cynthia Weill.

It's been a long road for Kennedy, dating back three years to 2012 when the grad of Sheridan College's musical theatre program auditioned and read the original draft of the script.

The announcement follows her popular and critically acclaimed portrayal of Mary Poppins this past holiday season in Hamilton in Theatre Aquarius' hit presentation of the Disney/Cameron Mackintosh production.

A native of New Brunswick, the actress/dancer/singer/songwriter grew up in a military family. She is renowned for her performances at the Stratford Festival including Maria in "West Side Story," Philia in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," the title role in "Evita" and Rose of Sharon in "The Grapes of Wrath." At the Shaw Festival, she has played Lydia in "The President," Eileen in "Wonderful Town" and Nellie in "Summer and Smoke."

A new mother, she was last seen on stage as Nellie in Drayton Festival's "South Pacific." She was a guest star with Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown in his concert at Toronto's Glenn Gould Studio and just finished performing her own original music and selections from her seasons at Stratford in concert. Titled "What You Find in a Bottle," it was part of last season's Stratford Forum series.

While appearing as Mary Magdalene in her debut performance on Broadway in the 2012 Stratford Festival's "Jesus Christ Superstar," she performed to a sold-out crowd at NYC's Metropolitan Room. spoke with Chilina via e-mail following the announcement.

Congratulations, Chilina. It must be a very exciting day. You're replacing a Tony Award-winner Jessie Mueller in one of Broadway's most popular shows. How do you feel?

Playing Carole King is a huge responsibility no matter how you look at it. She is an icon. Jessie Mueller is incredibly talented and wonderful in this role. It would be natural to feel some pressure as the person chosen to replace her but thankfully, in the words of Carole King herself,: "All I [have] to do [is] sing with conviction, speak my truth from the heart...and offer my words, ideas and music to the audience as if it were one collective friend that I'd known for a very long time." This is my responsibility and I hope to accomplish it.

When did you first see BEAUTIFUL? How long did it take before you wanted to play Carole King?

I didn't see the show until last summer but I have wanted to play the role since I first auditioned for the reading and read the original draft of the script in 2012. I was crying by the final scene of that first draft and thought the show had incredible potential. Seeing it on stage confirmed that. It was wonderful.

Please explain the audition process... Did they approach you?

The audition process is different for every show. In my case, I auditioned numerous times for various incarnations of the show. I was lucky that the team still had me in mind when this opportunity came up. I'm thrilled to be returning to NYC at this point in my career to play this very special role.

How old were you when you first heard Carole King sing?

I heard many of her songs without knowing they were hers from a very young age. I knew her familiar voice through high school but I became a real fan as I got older and recognized what a fantastic songwriter and heartfelt singer she is. She inspired my own songwriting and I've always admired the openness and freedom of her performances.

What became your favorite song? Do you have any faves in the show?

I've always loved "Natural Woman." I enjoyed listening to "Smackwater Jack" as a kid in the car with my parents on long road trips. But maybe my favorite Carole King song is "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?". And, I love the way it's done in the show.

Both Jessie and you are very accomplished performers. How will your performance differ from hers and to what degree?

Thank you. I think the beauty about acting is that a role can only come alive through the actor as conduit and we are all unique. So much of what we do depends on our chemistry with the other actors and our connection to the material. As Carole King mentions in her book (titled "A Natural Woman - A Memoir"), I will try "to perform unselfconsciously with joy and integrity". And I will try not to let comparisons (mine or other people's) get in the way of that.

What's it like to be going back to Broadway, this time in a starring role? What does performing on Broadway mean to you?

I've always hoped my career would take me to Broadway. I'm incredibly grateful, to say the least, to be returning to play the starring role of Carole King. I feel very fortunate to have had a successful career both in Canada and the US and to be making a living doing something I love to do.

Please speak a bit about A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER... You created the role of Phoebe at the Hartford Stage and the Old Globe in San Diego. Of course, that won four Tony Awards in NYC, including Best Musical....

One of my top career goals has always been to originate a role. I have been able to do this numerous times in Canada and now also in the US. It is extremely satisfying to mold a character from scratch and to help writers you respect see an idea through from their script to the stage. When these shows are successful, you can't help but feel proud that you were a part of their inception. After all, making theater is always a team effort no matter who gets the glory. I feel very proud of our collective work in "A Gentleman's Guide To Love And Murder" and to be a part of two fantastic hit shows. I'm a lucky girl!

It hasn't been announced how long Chilina Kennedy's engagement with "Beautiful" will be. Marc Bruni, the show's director said in a statement "After seeing her excel over the years as the preeminent leading lady of Canada's Stratford Festival, I'm thrilled to welcome Chilina back to Broadway. She's a unique talent, and I can't wait for the audiences at the Sondheim to experience the warmth, vulnerability, and humility Chilina will bring to the role."

Des McAnuff, former Stratford Artistic Director who directed Chilina Kennedy as Mary Magdalene on Broadway in the Festival's Jesus Christ Superstar, describes Chilina as "the most gifted musical theatre actress I have come across in many, many years. She is a great comedian as well as a terrific dramatic actor. She has a powerful and versatile singing voice, and perhaps more importantly than any of that, she is a perpetual student, always growing and adding new skills to her considerable abilities. I wish I could clone (her)."

"Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" opened in January 2013 and recouped its $13 million investment in less than 10 months, becoming that season's first new musical to pay back its investors.

Article reprinted with permission from

What You Say

10 reviews, average rating: (5.0 Stars)

William Kayen: “So Enjoyable”

From the moment the show starts and until the end, you are amazed by it. T... more

Anonymous: “Wonderful Night At The Theatre”

Loved it!! I was here visiting from Los Angeles. I have always loved Carol... more

Govholland: “Excellent Story. Excellent Songs. Excellent Actors.”

What more could you ask for in a musical. Great!... more

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