Broadway's Beautiful Noise
On my most recent trip to New York City, I found one of my new favourite musicals of the season: A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical.
As you can imagine, A Beautiful Noise tells the story of Neil Diamond, from his early songwriting days, superstardom, and beyond. But it shows this in a very unique perspective: present day Neil is in therapy, and using his various songs to share his life story with his therapist.
Naturally, the musical features the songs of Neil Diamond, which have been revamped for the stage by a team including Sonny Paladino, Brian Usifer, Annmarie Milazzo, and Bob Gaudio. The production is helmed by director Michael Mayer with a book by Anthony McCarten.
A Beautiful Noise has one of my favourite books of a musical probably overall, but definitely for a jukebox musical! I thought this was a new and interesting way of telling a bio-musical, and really enjoyed the concept. It was also really accessible: if you loved Neil Diamond, everything is there, and if you knew nothing about him other than Sweet Caroline (like me), you can still enjoy the show! It was funny, extremely moving, and one of the best experiences I’ve had in a theatre.
The fantastic cast is led by Mark Jacoby as Neil (Now). He is giving the performance of a lifetime, and I genuinely hope that when Tony nominations come along, his brilliant work is recognized. Jacoby’s acting is some of the best I’ve ever seen onstage: delivering a layered and nuanced performance as he brings the audience on Neil’s journey. I will remember his rendition of I Am… I Said for a very long time.
The night I visited the theatre, I was very lucky to see a performance full of wonderful understudies including Nick Fradiani (Neil (Then) Alternate), Alex Hairston (Doctor), and Mary Page Nance (Marcia).
Mary Page Nance’s star turn as Marcia Murphy was a highlight of the evening, and I was surprised to discover it was her first time performing as the leading lady! She is poised and charismatic, with warm vocals and killer dance moves. Nance has made Forever In Blue Jeans one of my new favourite Broadway numbers.
In my opinion A Beautiful Noise is the perfect jukebox bio-musical: I laughed, I cried, and I learned a lot about Neil Diamond! The audience response was truly part of the experience as well, with everyone happy to sing along and cheer.
A Beautiful Noise is currently playing on Broadway at The Broadhurst Theatre, and while a national tour has been confirmed, details will be released soon.
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