COVID has changed our world in so many ways and I will continue to shout from the rooftop that the arts heal and we can all use a little extra healing. Despite the fact that A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical, lost 10 preview shows due to COVID, opening night shone like a round brilliant cut diamond (it’s the most sparkly cut – I googled it!) Despite not particularly being a fan of Neil Diamond – aside from mastering Sweet Caroline at Red Sox games- I fell in love with the story and the musical tonight. The audience was filled with fans of Broadway musicals as well as Neil Diamond super-fans which made the show that much more electric.
I expected I would hear the few Neil Diamond songs that I knew well and probably many I was not familiar with. What I didn’t expect was a quick change act and a story about mental health. Mental Health is something we are getting better about talking about as a country and within our various cultures, but seeing it addressed in this format was refreshing, honest, and approachable. We all have a life story with underlying emotions, reactions and social-emotional obstacles. Musicians capture those moments and stories better than most of us and share it with the world. Neil Diamond’s songs do just that. Will Swenson did a fabulous job as Neil Then taking Neil Diamond fans back to those concert days like they were yesterday and convincing them that Swenson was Diamond himself.
The acting and music in A Beautiful Noise was top notch. I may have even shed a few tears and I’ve never had an emotional connection with Neil Diamond’s music before this. My soundtrack was more Red Hot Chili Peppers, REM, and the Cure, but it doesn’t matter what your own personal soundtrack is because the actors bring this story to life with such energy, vivacity, and sheer talent. If you are a Neil Diamond fan it just makes the experience next level.
I love when a performance has the band on stage and it just makes sense for a performance about a musician. How the music and musicians were presented for A Beautiful Noise was perfect. I was wondering where the band was for the 1st part of the show and then all of a sudden they were front and center. While the music was at the center of the show, the choreography was so fabulous to watch and made the stories and songs scintillate. The mix of Broadway “period” jazzy dancing with more contemporary movement was just right. I also loved the retro costumes and my mom even whispered in my ear that she wanted me to find a pair of patterned pants like the ones she saw on stage.
The acting between Mark Jacoby as Neil Now and Linda Powell – Therapist was wonderful – it almost made the musical layer of A Beautiful Noise fade into the background as we watched snippets of what felt like a Tony Award winning play.
One last shout out to the incredibly talented and diverse chorus who brought an electric energy to each piece in the show and set the tone for every scene taking the audience through Neil Diamond songs and chapters of his life. I could see this show again and I’m definitely going to follow it to Broadway.
A Beautiful Noise.: The Neil Diamond Musical has extended their run time in Boston through August 7th. Tickets can be purchased online here.
Following the Boston engagement, A Beautiful Noise will open on Broadway this fall at the Broadhurst Theatre (235 West 44th Street) with preview performances beginning Wednesday, November 2 ahead of an official opening night set for Sunday, December 4. Tickets for Broadway can be purchased here.