Actress Jessie Mueller has been hailed as Broadway's next big star after winning rave reviews for her portrayal of singer/songwriter Carole King in a new stage musical.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical opened at the Stephen Sondheim Theater in New York City on Sunday night (12Jan14), and critics have been quick to praise the show's star for her performance.

Ben Brantley of the New York Times made it clear Mueller is the best element of the production, writing, "Originality is clearly not this show's strong suit. With one very important exception. That's Ms Mueller, a Broadway star in waiting for several years, who here steps confidently into the Vip room of musical headliners."

Elysa Gardner of USA Today also singles out Mueller for her star turn, writing, "Jessie Mueller... is a singer with exquisite tone and great flexibility - and one of our best young musical actresses to boot... Mueller's portrayal of King (is) far and away the best reason to see Beautiful..."

The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney adds, "This is entertaining boomer bait that elevates its by-the-numbers narrative with great songs. It's also a tremendous showcase for the talented Jessie Mueller as she embodies King's blossoming from songwriter-for-hire to empowered performer of her own material."

Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News concurs: "Best of all is Mueller... She doesn't sound all that much like King, but brings lots of sweetness and some depth to the role. Now that's beautiful."

Prior to opening night, King sent her best wishes to the cast along with her songwriting partners Gerry Goffin, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. In a post on, she wrote, "The real Goffin & King, Mann & Weil wish the whole company of Beautiful a great opening night and a long, joyous run!"