Sarah Bockel, above and left, plays Carole King in "Beautiful   The Carole King Musical" at Boston Opera House, opening Jan. 29.
Sarah Bockel, above and left, plays Carole King in "Beautiful The Carole King Musical" at Boston Opera House, opening Jan. 29.

Playing master songwriter Carole King is a thrill for actress Sarah Bockel. She headlines the cast in the national tour of "Beautiful -- The Carole King Musical" at Boston Opera House, Jan. 29-Feb. 10.

But it's an emotional roller coaster, too, especially when King shows up in the audience.

"Having her in the audience is wild, and I didn't know it would be so emotional meeting her," Bockel said recently by phone from Philadelphia. "She's gracious and so kind and funny."

"Beautiful" is a jukebox musical with a book by Douglas McGrath that tells the story of King's early life and career.

It uses the songs she wrote, often with lyricist Gerry Goffin, and other contemporary songs by Phil Spector, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weill and others to tell the story.

Bockel, a Chicago native, has been with the show since 2015, first as the understudy to the actress playing King, and now in the lead.

"Carole had the ability to find joy in every moment," said Bockel. "That joy inspired songs that shaped a generation, and now, by telling her story, a new generation can fall in love with that incredible music."

King wrote her first No. 1 hit -- "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" -- at age 17 with Goffin. While the pair wrote dozens of chart hits together, it was King's solo album, "Tapestry," that took her to the pinnacle in 1971. To date, more than 400 of her songs have been recorded by more than 1,000 artists.


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Among her other top hits are "So Far Away," "You've Got A Friend," "Up on the Roof," "On Broadway," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "Beautiful."

"It's so satisfying," Bockel said, "since there's a lot of comedy and laughter in it. She's so funny, and that surprises people."

An actress since high school, she loves playing King. But in the future, she also has her sights set on doing a drama, perhaps being in "Waitress" or playing Dot in Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park with George."

"I feel honored playing Carole King and look forward to doing some other great roles in my career," she said. "I'm having a wonderful time."

Tickets start at $44.50 and are available at Ticketmaster at 800-982-2787 or www.BroadwayInBoston.com.

Nancye Tuttle's email is nancyedt@verizon.net.

On the marquee

HANOVER HAPPENINGS: The Greek gods are real -- and they're ruining Percy Jackson's life. That's the premise of "The Lightning Thief -- The Percy Jackson Musical" on stage at Worcester's Hanover Theatre, Jan. 21-Feb. 3. The rock musical, based on Rick Riordan's best-selling novel, is about Percy, the teen son of Poseidon, and his newly discovered powers that he can't control. He's got monsters on his trail and is on an epic quest to find Zeus' lightning bolt to prevent a war between the gods. The show is part of the Hanover's 10th Anniversary Broadway Series. Tickets $34-$69 at www.thehanovertheatre.org or call 877-571-7469.

ECO-FRIENDLY FILMS: Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust and the Lowell Film Collaborative join ranks for a 6-month eco-film series dubbed "Our Common Ground." The exciting line-up launches Tuesday, Jan. 29, with "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power," being screened at 6:30 p.m., at Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center, 246 Market St. If the government shutdown is still active, the event will be held at Pollard Memorial Library, 401 Merrimack St. The film is a sequel to Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" and tells the story of his fight to battle the climate-change crisis as it becomes clearer. The line-up this year includes national features, guest speakers, adventure, heroes and more. Free admission, but donations welcome. Follow it on the Lowell Film Collaborative Facebook page.

SHORT, BUT SWEET: Cannon Theatre seeks submissions for its Ten-Minute Play Festival, being held June 7, 8, 14 and 15 in Littleton. The submission deadline is March 1, and the contest is open to all playwrights, high-school age and up. Specifications and requirements are available at the website at www.thecannontheatre.com.