As an avid fan of Neil Diamond and his music, all my alerts went on high priority. I was going to be in Boston and A Beautiful Noise was debuting there at the same time. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Tickets were bought and the musical was a go after an early cancellation for covid protocols and we felt lucky to be there. The Emerson Colonial Theater – beautiful, ornate and with history just oozing from the golden gilt walls.
Onto the show.
It started off a little slow, not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it. Format was a bit different with two Neil Diamonds on the stage at the same time. The current one – age appropriate was performed by Mark Jacoby and his younger self played by Will Swenson. It took a few minutes to wrap my head around the way the story was progressing and the dancers who were amazing, but just felt like an extra that wasn’t needed.
I checked my watch and only fifteen minutes had gone by.
BUT that was the last time I checked.
The show started catching on fire, with the music and well known songs soon reaching out and filling every crevice of the Emerson. The story was fairly familiar to me and his individual songs seemed to mesh with life events as told by the older Neil in an ongoing therapy session. I’m not really sure that’s how and when they were produced, but hey, what do I know?
By intermission we were completely hooked and couldn’t wait for the second half. The more Swenson sang, the more he sounded like the real deal.
But he wasn’t the only one who sang, Robyn Hurder who played Neil’s second wife Marcia, was outstanding in everything she delivered.
Framed by fictional therapy sessions, the show features Diamond reacting to his lyrics, as his therapist (Linda Powell) reads aloud from “The Complete Lyrics of Neil Diamond.” A “Ghost of Christmas Past”-style exploration ensues, as the songs come to life with help from the 10-person ensemble and the onstage band. The Patriot Ledger
It’s hard to pick a defining moment of the show, but to me it was probably the gut-checking performance done by Jacoby of I am . . I Said.
The musical is in pre-Broadway mode and starting previews at the Broadhurst Theater in November, 2022. I already have my tickets!