Q&A with JACOB HEIMER: Working on Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

Barry and Cynthia. Jacob Heimer (“Barry Mann”) and Sarah Goeke (“Cynthia Weil”)

Arturo Hilario

El Observador

Jacob Heimer is an actor and performer whose most recently been working on the tour of the upcoming Broadway San Jose production of Beautiful—The Carole King Musical.

With previous work in musicals such as Soul Doctor, a nd t elevision s hows l ike Chuck and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, he has had an eclectic background with acting and music.

In “Beautiful” the story of the legendary songwriter, author and performer Carole King is examined with all of her most captivating songs throughout. In addition, the story focuses on her contemporaries that worked in the same thriving New York songwriting scene that began in the late 50’s and continued beyond.

Heimer plays Barry Mann, who was intertwined in King’s life and also wrote some of the most captivating music along with his wife Cynthia Weil.

In the following Q&A, Heimer answers some of our questions on the upcoming production, coming to the Center for the Performing Arts November 14th- 19th.

How did you get started in the performing arts?

My parents noticed that I was really… how should I put this, I had a lot of energy when I was younger, and I really loved music so it really started as singing around the house a whole lot. Then I saw my first musical when I was 7 or 8 and I fell completely head over heels. It was a high school production of Jesus Christ Superstar and the guy that was playing Judas just rocked my world. I realized that was exactly what I wanted to do. I went to college for acting, not musical theater, I wasn’t sure if I’d do musicals again but Music has always been with me in my life. I was in a band in high school and college that really stuck with me and kinda led me to this show. It’s kind of a nice, perfect combination of the rock world and beautiful theater.

In Beautiful – The Carole King Musical you play Barry Mann. Who is he, and how does he fit into this production?

He’s really the music half of the songwriting powerhouse that is Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. Barry worked at the Alden Building which is referred to in this show as 1650 Broadway, because it was the address. There were songs that were being turned everyday these songwriters are writing hundreds of songs, pumping out, trying to sell them to groups like The Shirelles and the Drifters. Carole worked at 1650 Broadway as a songwriter with her husband Gerry Goffin So, a lot of people, one of the thrills of this show is that in the first act we get to see these songs that we don’t associate with Carole King, songs like “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”, “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “Taking Care of My Baby”. She wrote “The Loco- Motion” while she was at this building; “Change”, all these gorgeous songs that we don’t associate with tapestry. Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil Worked in the same building so they became fast friends and fierce competitors. Carole has said they were the only people that really understood “our crazy life”, which was just trying to get a number one hit every day. So, they vacationed together because apparently if they vacationed together they wouldn’t have a chance to make a hit song while the other people were gone. They became lifelong friends.

Anything in particular that you like about playing Barry Mann?

He’s amazing to play every night, he’s full of neurosis and frustrations and he’s a genius songwriter. He wrote so many  incredible songs with Cynthia and for all his neurosis and bitterness he also has a huge heart, he’s a very sweet guy, he really wants to marry this woman who he’s writing all these songs with. And I think they’re really the love story of the show. I got to meet the real Barry Mann two days ago, which was a real trip. Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil Came to our show in Fresno and they were so sweet and I was so happy that he was such an open-hearted guy in person because that’s what I got from the script but it was nice to see how much they still love each other now. Very sweet together. I got to talk to him about how I covered one of his songs in high school with my horrible high school band, his music has been with me a long time. That’s a little off the topic I know. It was a real thrill seeing them in the flesh, but I’m happy to report we’re the same height, so I feel that bit of casting was really accurate.

Do you have a specific favorite moment of the production, whether it be form the show or the making of?

Honestly, one of my favorite things in the show is being offstage in the wings, and watching The Drifters perform. They kill me every night. One of the songs Carole King and Gerry Goffin Wrote was “Up on the Roof ”, numbers you don’t necessarily associate with them. But to watch The Drifters every night nail that number right before I come in with Cynthia to put down the number because we don’t understand how their writing all these amazing songs, it’s just breathtaking watching these performers. Me personally in the show, there’s a scene with Cynthia where I’m at my wits end and I’m very frustrated by a song she wants to put more work into that I think is kind of a horrible idea. And it ends up being “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” which of course turns out to be the most played song of the decade. So, I (As Barry) think it’s too boring, I sit down and make fun of the song, and the next second you see The Righteous Brothers step out and nail the song. I love those moments. And honestly just getting to be onstage and share scenes with Sarah Goeke, who’s my Cynthia, it’s great every night.

Why should people go check out Beautiful—The Carole King Musical when it comes to San Jose?

There are a lot of themes that speak to me personally in Carole’s journey. I think overall, it’s a really nuanced view of everything one has to fight for in their life. Carole is fighting for love and a relationship and her music and her career and those things are relatable to any audience and on top of that you have one of the best songwriters of all time turning out these hits I think audiences sometimes forget they know and people go crazy for these songs I mean every night that “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” comes on the audience loses their minds. Her songs speak to all generations. Not just the 70’s tapestry generation, we had a nine-year-old outside the theater the other week who specifically said, ‘yeah but when you and Carole sang “You’ve Got a Friend” I just started crying’. She said, ‘it really resonated with me’. You could tell that she was truly moved by the show. So, there are people of all generations who just really connect with Carole King’s music and the story of a woman who is in kind of a man’s business as well. One of the characters when we’re in the early 60’s is really surprised that she’s a composer because she’s a girl, and girls aren’t supposed to be composers. And she really took the world by storm with her music and her life story. I think that’s what this show does.

Beautiful—The Carole King Musical runs from November 14th – 19th, 2017 at the Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets and additional information available at broadwaysanjose.com.

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