After watching The Neil Diamond Musical: A Beautiful Noise, one thing is clear. Every story should be told with brilliant swing backup dancers.
Directed shrewdly by Michael Mayer, The world premiere of The Neil Diamond Musical: A Beautiful Noise continues its pre-Broadway run at Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston, MA live and in person through August 7. The show is two hours and 30 minutes including an intermission. Click here for more information and tickets.
Kicking off with surprising, self-deprecating humor, A Beautiful Noise might have been just what one would expect from a musical biopic, but Neil Diamond takes it to the next level. Diamond’s music beginnings are a bit reminiscent of Carole King’s journey from creative songwriter delivering hits such as I’m a Believer to songwriter solo act. Part riveting, sing-along concert within a musical, part dive into Diamond’s past, but yet there is so much more to this solitary man. Even if Neil Diamond’s songs aren’t at the top of your playlist, this wonderful musical helmed by Will Swenson’s stellar performance as then Neil Diamond just might end up being music to your ears.
One of the best selling musicians of all time and yet Neil Diamond is not what one might expect. Now Diamond, portrayed with pensive fortitude by Mark Jacoby, is a rather gruff and unassuming man who does not like to talk about himself. Many deep thinking individuals steeped in the pressures for success seem to also have what Neil Diamond calls ‘clouds’ and the show does not shy away from that, but this musical is much more of a celebration.
Neil Diamond’s hit songs are explored, but on a more comprehensive and personal level. Much of the production is a luminous foray into how songs like catchy Cherry, Cherry, Song Sung Blue, America which delves into Diamond’s Polish heritage, traditional Boston Red Sox song Sweet Caroline met with rousing applause and many others factor into this revered songwriter’s remarkable journey.
Charismatic and charming, it is difficult to imagine a better Then Diamond than Will Swenson. A compelling singer with a dry sense of humor, Swenson has an indelible stage presence from the moment he first appears with his guitar. He and Jessie Fisher as optimistic and sympathetic Jayne Posner have endearing chemistry and deliver a powerful and tense duet for Love on the Rocks. Robyn Hurder gives an electrifying performance of Forever in Blue Jeans as charming and soulful Marcia Murphey. Bri Sudia in a dual role is comic gold as outspoken and caring record producer Ellie Greenwich from her very first line with Swenson as Then Diamond. Their snappy chemistry creates some of the production’s funniest and most inspiring moments.
Whether soaked in beautiful shadows or in a multi-colored glow on a concert stage, lighting designer Kevin Adams exacts each mood-induced scene masterfully. Emilio Sosa’s lively and glittering costumes have a retro feel delving into the wild, vibrant patterns of the late 60’s and onward while Diamond’s progressive stage presence flaunt his signature fringe, suede, leather, and glittering sequins. David Rockwell’s inviting and eye-catching set design enhances this dazzling musical experience which includes dynamic hanging light fixtures and a stunning, innovative multi-tiered, spot-lit band richly conducted by Sonny Paladino and Sinai Tabak.
A Beautiful Noise is a clever, eloquent, and illuminating look at Diamond without taking itself too seriously. Now to those incredible swing dancers that accompany Diamond on his journey. Fueled by Steven Hoggett’s upbeat, athletic, and era-driven choreography, the Swings brightened each scene even its darker moments to make this effervescent musical journey feel so good.
The world premiere of The Neil Diamond Musical: A Beautiful Noise continues at Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston, MA live and in person through August 7. Click here for more information and tickets.