It doesn't bother Curt Bouril in the least to be typecast.
The 38-year-old Eldridge native is playing music producer Don Kirshner in the touring production of "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical," playing from Dec. 1 to Jan. 9 at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago.
"This is my second record label producer," said Bouril, who played Sam Phillips in "Million Dollar Quartet" off-Broadway. "If I can do 'Jersey Boys' on Broadway, too, then I'll be done with the big three."
"Beautiful," which won two Tony Awards including best musical, looks at the rise of Carole King from songwriter to performer in her own right.
It includes King's songs that were hits for others, including "Take Good Care of My Baby" (Bobby Vee), "Up on the Roof" (The Drifters) and "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (The Monkees); as well as songs King made famous herself, including "So Far Away," "You've Got a Friend" and "I Feel the Earth Move."
Kirshner, Bouril said, was known as "the man with the golden ear," and persuaded King and her collaborator/husband, Gerry Goffin, to leave the songwriters showcase known as the Brill Building and join Kirshner.
"They stopped having these older men, who were great songwriters, writing music for kids, because kids were buying all the music," Bouril said. "It might not sound like much now, but then it was revolutionary."
Bouril, who was given material to read and videos to watch to study up on his role, said he enjoys playing Kirshner.
"He was an incredible guy and very, very smart. Didn't know how to play a single instrument, didn't know how to sing, but he had an ear for it," he said. "That's a part of the business, part of the industry."
To the public, Kirshner was known as the host of the "Rock Concert" TV series in the 1970s, where he was uncharacteristically low-key.
"He really wasn't much of a personality when the director said, 'Action,' but he was a huge personality in person," Bouril said of Kirshner. "Everyone was on eggshells around him, because he didn't say, 'You have three weeks,' he said, 'You have till tomorrow.' He wanted these kids to write and work that much harder."
"Beautiful" shows King and Goffin in competition with another songwriting couple, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann.
"It was a true competition," Bouril said. "They would gamble in cabs to see whose song would come on next on the radio."
As "Beautiful" progresses, Goffin and King part ways and she is encouraged to become an on-stage performer herself.
"She wanted to record her own stuff, which was unheard of because everyone (singing) was beautiful, similar to now. Are you going to be a huge success if you're not gorgeous?," he said.
"Sure, she was beautiful, but she wasn't that iconic beauty like a Diana Ross. She didn't have that look, she wasn't a knockout," he added.
Bouril calls "Beautiful" a "feel-good story for women."
"In a male-driven industry like this, for her to rise to the absolute top was such a blessing for the art," he said.
Bouril, a 1995 graduate of North Scott High School, conducted his phone interview from a Whole Foods Market in Minneapolis, where the show opened Wednesday and continues through the end of the month.
Instead of riding the bus with the rest of the company, he and a fellow cast member are riding in that actor's car, sometimes with Bouril's wife accompanying them. She works for Bloomberg BNA, formerly known as the Bureau of National Affairs, and works wherever her husband has a show.
"It's been so fun, and I love the feeling I got driving from Boston to the Midwest," Bouril said. "The closer I can get to Iowa, it's such a great feeling."
Bouril said he was already somewhat of a fan of King's music, but "I've grown to appreciate it much, much, much, much more now.
"I knew she sang some songs, but I had no idea of the library of songs she wrote with her husband," said Bouril, who's contracted to stay with the tour through next September's shows in San Francisco.
One song in particular makes Bouril smile: King's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."
"I've listened to that song since I was 3 or 4 years old with my mother and sister," he said. "For years, I thought the line was 'You make me feel like a calm and sure woman.'
"I was a little kid, I didn't know what the words were," he added. "Every time that song is sung in the show, I kind of giggle to myself."