Call Answered: Julia Knitel Interview: Beautiful - The Carole King Musical at The Cape Playhouse

actress broadway musical theatre off-broadway regional theatre singer theatre Jul 08, 2024
Call Me Adam Title Page. Call Me Adam logo is on the left side. Julia Knitel's headshot is on the right side. In the top center of the page is an orange circle with jagged edges that says Featured Interview. Between our photos it says Beautiful The Carole King Musical. Below the title and in between our names there is an auburn circle that says www.callmeadam.com

In 2017 I got to see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway. I remember going with my parents, aunt, and uncle. We all had such a great time singing along to the music, and seeing a wonderful cast bring Carole & her music to life.

I didn't get to see Julia Knitel in the title role, but this show has always held a special place in my heart.

When I heard she was going to be starring in The Cape Playhouse's upcoming production, returning to the role of Carole King, after playing it on Broadway & the National Tour, I knew I had to speak with her to find out more.

In this interview, Julia answered my call to reveal:
  • What she will bring to this production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical that she hasn't previously 
  • How playing Carole King has changed the way Julia looks at her own career
  • What it was like to meet Carole King in real life
  • What she likes to do outside of acting
  • So much more

Connect with Julia: Instagram

This Tony® and Grammy® Award-winning musical is an inspiring true story of Carole King’s journey from teenage songwriter to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Before she was hit-maker Carole King — she was Carole Klein, a spunky, young songwriter from Brooklyn with a unique voice. From the chart-topping hits she wrote for the biggest acts in music with her husband Gerry Goffin to her own life-changing, trailblazing success with her album Tapestry.

Beautiful — The Carole King Musical takes you back to where it all began — and takes you on the ride of a lifetime with one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history.

The musical phenomenon is filled with the songs you remember such as “You’ve Got a Friend,” “One Fine Day,” “So Far Away,” “Take Good Care of My Baby,” “Up on the Roof,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” and “Natural Woman.”

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical will play at The Cape Playhouse from July 10, 2024-August 3, 2024. Click here for tickets!

Julia Knitel as Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

1. This summer you are starring in The Cape Playhouse's production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. You have played the role of Carole King both on Broadway & the national tour. Since you have played the role previously, what do you feel you will bring to this production that you couldn't bring before embodying the role of Carole King? It’s truly an honor to get to revisit this show. Carole’s journey in Beautiful spans so much of her life, and each time I come back to it, I feel like I can connect to a whole new aspect of her. At this moment in my life, I feel most in touch with her strength.

2. You were the youngest person to play Carole on Broadway. What did you relate to most about her when you first played her, and what do you relate to her now, now that you have had some more living between productions? When I first played the role, 16 year old Carole was very easy for me to access. I was 22 when I joined the Broadway company, and while I loved growing with Carole throughout the show every night, I felt intimidated by where her story goes in act two. I wanted to do her justice, and I didn’t feel like I had the lived experience to do that yet.

Looking back now, I realize those feelings of insecurity probably gave me a pretty unique perspective on the latter part of her journey, but I couldn’t see that at the time.

Coming back all these years later, a bit stronger, a bit more experienced, a lot more grounded in who I am - is really wild. I’d definitely say I feel I can embody her more completely now - beginning to end - which feels really good.

3. How do you feel playing this role has changed the way you look at your own career? Carole and I actually have similar paths, career wise. I made my Broadway debut at 16 from an open call that I went to on a whim (I’d never done a professional audition before), and was thrust into an incredible & very high stakes situation that shaped who I am as an artist to this day. I’d always been very comfortable in the ensemble. I love being a small (but vital) part of the whole - much like Carole, who felt way more comfortable writing songs than she did performing them.

The Beautiful team was the first that saw me and said “you’re a leading lady.” I strongly disagreed!! But they threw me head first out of my comfort zone, and I will forever be grateful to them for that. Because of this role and this show and their belief in me, I’ve spent the last (almost) decade of my career playing and originating incredible principal roles.

4. Have you had the opportunity to meet Carole King in real life, and if so, what can you share with us about that experience? I did indeed! I was the 4th person to play the role full time in the US, so I felt pretty sure I knew how it would work when she came to the show. For the three before me, she surprised them onstage after curtain call. But since she could only see me on a “load out” show (a touring term for the last show in a city - the crew is breaking down & packing up the sets, costumes and props from the moment the show starts), I had to meet her before(!!) the show. I was a wreck. I just wanted to make her proud.

But as soon as I met her, she made me feel so at ease. She really has the most calming, loving, Mother Earth energy. She is exactly who you hope she’d be and more. I was told she’d have to run after the show so this was our only chance to say hello - but she was so moved that she stayed after to give me a few more hugs and tell me what she loved about my performance. It was a dream come true.

5. Let's play with some of the songs you sing in the show to find out more about you.

  • "So Far Away" - What is something you want to achieve that still seems "So Far Away"? I’d love to have kids one day! But it’s certainly something that’s a few years down the line. 
  • "I Feel The Earth Move" - Is there an event in your life that made you sing, "I feel the earth move under my feet"? When I married my husband of 6 years, PJ Adzima. Our wedding day was one of the best days of my life.
  • "It Might As Well Rain Until September" - When has there been a time when you felt like "It might as well rain until September" because it was such a rough/challenging time? The pandemic was pretty tough. I was fortunate enough to know I had a job to go back to (I was on tour with Come From Away before the shut down), but that was certainly a very long and difficult season for all of us.
  • "You've Got A Friend" - If you could dedicate this song to anyone in your life, who would you sing this song to? My husband. When we were still just friends, he dropped everything to be there, very last minute, for my Carole debut on Broadway. I’ll never forget what a friend he was to me that night. We started dating not long after, and every time he’s seen the show since (which is approximately 10,000 times), it’s the song that makes him cry the hardest. He’ll probably cry just reading this article and thinking about it.

6. Who or what inspired you to be an actress? I was born into a performing arts family, so it was always in the cards for me. I grew up doing my parents community theatre productions, which was an incredible foundation. I learned how many people it takes to put on a show, onstage, offstage, backstage, behind the scenes, in the booth, in the box office - so whenever I’m working I really try to connect with everyone in the building. No contribution is more or less valuable - it takes all of us to make that magic. That's one of the things I love the most about being an actor. Being on a team. And I think learning that from a young age really made me want to pursue this professionally.

Julia Knitel in her dressing room, Dead Outlaw, Off-Broadway
Photo Credit: Sub/Urban Photography 

7. Outside of acting, you also like to cook. What are some of your favorite things to cook? I really do! I’ve been really into roast chicken lately. It’s easy, but also so stunning and impressive if you’re having people over for dinner. Two favorites have been Alison Roman’s anchovy butter chicken & her spring chicken with leeks.

I also have a recipe from my favorite Thai place in Austin Texas, where you poach a whole chicken in these gorgeous aromatics and then use that chicken stock to make rice and let me tell you - *chefs kiss*.

8. Do you have any strange or unusual talents that no one knows about? Speaking of cooking, I have the innate ability to guess *exactly* the right Tupperware size for the amount of leftovers. To a truly ridiculous degree of accuracy.

9. Pancakes or French Toast? Pancakes!

10. Coffee or Tea? How do you take it? Coffee. Almond flat white when it’s cold, iced when it’s warm.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I’d want to time travel.

12. Favorite way to stay in shape? I adore hot yoga & pilates! I actually got certified to teach pilates during the pandemic, which I really loved doing. Also long walks - very much looking forward to many along the cape!

Julia Knitel, Photo Credit: Sub/Urban Photography

More on Julia Knitel:

Julia Knitel is a New York City based actor whose work has been seen on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regionally. At just 23, she toured the country as Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, receiving acclaim from audiences and critics alike. She also toured with the hit musical Come From Away as Janice & Others.

On Broadway, she was seen in Beautiful, as well as Roundabout’s Revival of Bye Bye Birdie.

Off-Broadway, she was nominated for an Outer Critic’s Circle Award for her performance in the NYTimes Critic’s Pick Dead Outlaw (Winner of 2024 Drama Desk, Outer Critic’s Circle, Drama Critic’s Circle, & Off Broadway Alliance Awards for Best Musical). Other Off-Broadway credits include A Letter to Harvey Milk (Lucille Lortel nomination for Best Leading Actress), and Panic of ‘29.

Select New York/Regional credits include: Carole King in Beautiful (Theatre Aspen - Henry nomination), Louise in Gypsy (The Muny - St Louis Theatre Circle nomination), Martha in The Constant Wife (Denver Center), Ulla in The Producers (Casa Mañana), Jennifer/Theresa in the World Premiere Red Maple (Capitol Repertory Theatre), Nora in Brighton Beach Memoirs (Portland Stage), Ingrid in Volleygirls (NY Musical Theatre Festival - Best of Fest), and Lydia in The Tycoons (Rave Theatre Festival - Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role).

Julia has originated roles in the development of countless new plays & musicals over the past 15 years. She is a feminist and a passionate advocate for social justice.

Be The First To Know

 The Call Me Adam Digest will give you a front row seat to my interviews, podcast episodes & other behind-the-curtain adventures.

We will never sell your information. Yon can unsubscribe at any time.