By Lori Simmons Zelenko

Sitting on the bleachers under the stars on a summer night in Central Park was, simply said, magic. Listening to the soundtrack of a time when love was immediate – and only questioned the morning after – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? When connecting was not about the Internet of things…but about something as simple as knowing You’ve Got A Friend.

SummerStage the largest FREE performing arts festival in New York City presented a buoyant, genuinely beautiful, night of the music of singer/songwriter Carole King.

A rare stripped-down chance to experience the voice of a generation…the concert performance of the hit Broadway show, The Carole King Musical BEAUTIFUL was dedicated to the words and music of an artist with more hit tunes than Forest Gump’s box of chocolates.

Though one night only under the stars, BEAUTIFUL remains on Broadway infusing vibrant rhythm into the story of a songwriter turned singer who became the voice of her generation, a time when music transitioned from bubbly pop to something more introspective, an era that was the evening’s host Hoda Kotb (a devoted fan of the show, she’s seen it nine times!) reminded us, darkened by the war in Vietnam. BEAUTIFUL reveals a woman sharing her thoughts candidly speaking in an authentic voice then to women who were liberating themselves from more than just the bonds of love…A talent whose lyrics went from doo wop to downbeat…An icon now whose thoughts expressed the coming of age of so many women today.

Were you one of the 4,000 at SummerStage on Monday, August 3? The communal spirit was joyous: Mothers, daughters, partners, lovers, first dates, long married couples, buddies, soul mates, husbands and wives…there’s no denying they couldn’t help but give in to the familiar songs – embraced by the wave of positive emotion coming from the SummerStage stage. I wasn’t the only member of the audience to give in and sing along…True my voice doesn’t compare to Aretha Franklin’s – she had a hit with Carole King’s You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman…or Tom Cruise in Top Gun when he sang You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling another memorable tune from an evening that plays on in my memory bringing back the distant pleasures of first kisses and the heartfelt earnestness of being in love…a feeling that’s like Carole King says, Some Kind of Wonderful.

SummerStage being the largest FREE performing arts festival in New York City presents artists and genres that reflect the diverse cultures and communities in neighborhood parks across the five boroughs. To celebrate their 30th season, SummerStage has extended the season from May to October, and added more than 20 free shows in Central Park and 16 neighborhood parks across the city, showcasing nearly 200 unique artists. From the iconic to the avant-garde, from opera to hip-hop, film to circus–and everything in between–this is what makes SummerStage a truly only-in New York City festival. For more information and a calendar of events,