“Sweet Caroline,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Song Sung Blue,” and “Love on the Rocks” are some of the many songs Neil Diamond has gifted the world. For many years, his mellow and introspective sound has given people a chance to explore the different corners of their emotions, feeling love, loss, hope, and contentment. In more than 50 years, he has become one of the most acclaimed, treasured, and celebrated musicians. To take us on a journey to Neil Diamond’s illustrious life through his music, A Beautiful Night: The Neil Diamond Musical was conceived, which will surely leave you welling up with emotions. As the musical makes its way to the Broadhurst Theatre in New York, take the chance to see it. Be immersed and uplifted by a story of a musician from a humble beginning to his mega-stardom.
“Ambitious, often rousing, occasionally heavy-handed biographical show.” – The New York Times
“At its best, “A Beautiful Noise” delivers straightforward showmanship and pop concert entertainment.” – AMNY
The minds behind A Beautiful Night: The Neil Diamond Musical are producers Ken Davenport and Bob Gaudio and writer Anthony McCarten. Davenport, who produced two Tony-winning musicals (Once on This Island and Kinky Boots), decided to produce Neil Diamond’s musical biopic, a massive task no one will dare to do unless the person doing it is a veteran like Davenport himself. Along with Bob Gaudio, best known for his music for Jersey Boys (both in the band and the adapted musical), the two started looking for the musical’s writer. The two producers then called Anthony McCarten to work with them.
McCarten has always been drawn to writing movies about notable people. On his belt are the Oscar-nominated films The Theory of Everything (Stephen Hawking), Bohemian Rhapsody (Freddie Mercury and Queen), The Two Popes, and I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston). At first, he was unwilling to expand his work to musicals but was instantly sold when he was told it was about Neil Diamond. In an interview with Broadway Across America, he said how stoked he was to write the musical, detailing how he showed his output to the acclaimed musician. “‘I’m in.’ My mother, my whole childhood, had two pictures on the mantelpiece: one was of the Pope, and one was of Neil Diamond. I had a harrowing moment where I delivered the script to Neil Diamond—I thought I was just dropping it off. There was this table set up in the middle of the room and a chair facing two others. He and his wife sat in the two, and they asked me to perform the musical for them. There was no way I could say no to it. I ended up starting, ‘Act one, scene one, lights up.’ I performed the whole musical for Neil, and he rewarded me by teaching me ‘Sweet Caroline’ on the guitar.” In 2019, they started developing the musical.
During the entirety of the musical’s developing process, Neil Diamond was the production team’s firsthand consultant. When his performances were abruptly stopped in 2018 due to Parkinson’s Disease, he dedicated much of his time to the musical. From his point of view, his job as a showman and musician will continue. To create a compelling story, McCarten uses one of his best formulas: ease the story to show the “life that talks to you.” He admits it was challenging to write about a life the public knows well. Hence, he considered a different way of telling the story by developing a clever setup.
“The infectiousness of the overall experience trumps the air of cheese to it and will have audiences cheering “so good, so good, so good” by the show’s end.” – Entertainment Weekly
The story starts with the legendary musician visiting a therapist for multiple sessions. There, he and the therapist explores the life he has lived. Holding a secondhand copy of The Complete Lyrics of Neil Diamond, the therapist reads his written lyrics which Neil would speak about. “She opens the book, and all 60 years of his songwriting and all that exploration pours out into a majestic musical collage, and once unloosed from the book, the songs take on lives of their own,” says McCarten in an interview with The Boston Globe.
The first act follows a young Neil Diamond during the 60s, doing his best to break into the music scene. This portion includes his struggles as a college student and performer, an up-and-coming songwriter, and a married man. The show opens with the song “A Beautiful Noise,” followed by many songs at the beginning of his career. “Solitary Man” is a highlight of Act 1 since it was his first charting song in his solo career. The act ends with a performance of the all-time favorite “Sweet Caroline.” As the story progresses to the second act, the audience gets a peek into the life of a music star and its accompanying difficulties. This portion showcases Neil’s golden era, his being a “high-maintenance” husband and parent, his failing marriage, and his post-60s slow deterioration of fame. Highlight songs of Act 2 are “Play Me,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” and “Shilo.” After ten Top 10 Hits, 140 million albums sold, a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, and the Kennedy Center Honors, the show finishes with such a perfect denouement, delivering well the legacy of Neil Diamond.
Before opening on Broadway in 2021, the musical premiered at the Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston on June 21 and ran until July 31. It was a heavy hitter and sold out multiple times. On December 4, it transferred to Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre and continues to play there as of this writing.
The Broadway production features the direction of Tony-winner Michael Mayer, best known for his works for Spring Awakening, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and American Idiot. The choreography is led by Olivier – winner and multiple Tony nominee Steven Hoggett, whose work on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Once, and Black Watch were positively acclaimed.
Tony Award-winning scenic designer David Rockwell, Tony Award-nominated costume designer Emilio Sosa, four-time Tony Award-winning lighting designer Kevin Adams, and hair and wig designer Luc Verschueren make up the overall design team for A Beautiful Noise. On the other hand, the music team is headed by Sonny Paladino, Brian Usifer, and AnnMarie Milazzo. Furthermore, the orchestrations are the results of the combined effort of Bob Gaudio, Sonny Paladino, and Brian Usifer.
Perfecting the musical is the standout cast with both Tony-nominated Will Swenson and Mark Jacoby playing the young and old Neil Diamond, respectively; Tony Award nominee Robyn Hurder as Marcia; Linda Powell as Doctor; Jessie Fisher as Jaye Posner; Michael McCormick as Fred Colby and Tommy O’Rourke; Tom Alan Robbins as Bert Berns and Kieve Diamond; and Bri Sudia as Ellie Greenwich and Rose Diamond.
To experience this riveting and empowering musical, see A Beautiful Night: The Neil Diamond Musical. In two hours of great entertainment, you get to see the growth of a legendary musician, how his showmanship evolved through the years, and how he transcended the difficult experiences of his life through great classic music. Only at the Broadhurst Theatre can this musical be witnessed. Now showing, buy tickets for the upcoming schedules.