There are plenty of reasons for Abby Mueller to think twice about playing Carole King—but she couldn’t be more thrilled or more right for the part.
“At first, I thought: This is crazy” says Abby Mueller, who, this month, will start to portray legendary songstress Carole King in Beautiful, the musical based on her life. “I don’t even want to touch this part.” It’s understandable: Not only would she be playing a living icon, but in the role for which her younger sister, Jessie, won a 2014 Tony Award. And by the way: King could show up in the audience at any time (as she did on Broadway).
Yet starring in a crowd-pleasing national tour with a 12-week Chicago run was an opportunity just too fabulous to pass up. Mueller felt it was almost her responsibility “That’s our job—to tell the story that’s been presented, in a truthful way, and hope we do these people justice,” says Mueller.
This won’t be the first time that she’s graced the Chicago stage; before moving to New York, Mueller appeared at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Drury Lane Oakbrook and the Marriott Lincolnshire. As a member of a Chicago theater family (father Roger; mother Jill Shellabarger; and siblings Jessie, Andrew and Matt, are all working actors), Mueller’s childhood home was filled with music and fascinating people. She never felt forced into performing, but it was clearly her calling.
When she takes the stage at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre this month, Mueller will be coming home—to her family, her friends, her mom’s great cooking and her town—just in time for the holidays.
Dec. 1-Feb. 21, tickets $30-$140, 24 W. Randolph St., 312.977.1700, broadwayinchicago.com