Review: Broadway's Neil Diamond show isn't so good, so good

NEW YORK (AP) - There are some interesting cocktails on offer at "The Neil Diamond Musical: A Beautiful Noise" on Broadway and it might not be such a bad idea to order a Sweet Clementine or a Cracklin' Rosé before you get to your seat. Just something to help lubricate one of the most puzzling jukebox musicals in years.

The show that opened Sunday at the Broadhurst Theatre is quite a depressing trip through Diamond's life, offering a respectful and, yes, fully authorized portrait that's unnecessarily boastful - "40 top 40 hits;120 million albums sold," we're told - as well as positively cringey.

The conceit is that an older Diamond is reluctantly undergoing therapy to figure out why he's such a sad sack. ("This is officially torture," he snarls - not the best way to start a musical.) A Diamond lyric songbook that his psychologist offers provides a trip back in time to key moments in his life, like "Sweet Caroline," "Song Sung Blue," "America" and "Cracklin' Rosie."

That's when an amazing Will Swenson as a young Diamond digs deep into his throat to provide a portrait of a tortured artist as a young man, dripping in lamé and spangles. Swenson is insanely great in every number, elevating superficial material to high heights and even playing a mean guitar. "How we doing tonight, Broadway?" he asks. We're eating out of your hand, sir.

But here's the first problem: The older Diamond (Mark Jacoby) STAYS onstage in a leather chair, looking glum over the show's two hours, during some very exciting musical numbers. He and his therapist just linger during most of the show like unwanted houseguests. It gets positively creepy. Maybe they deserve the cocktails?

Other bizarre choices quickly come at you, like why 10 dancers have emerged from Diamond's chair to act as a deranged chorus, why set designer David Rockwell has two dozen random dinning room lights hanging at various heights and why choreographer Steven Hoggett has gone from small hand movements to over-the-top Vegas choreography with no coherence.

We go through the time when Diamond wrote hit after hit for others - "I'm a Believer" for The Monkees, "Red Red Wine" for UB40 - but he's low on confidence. "You're too good," he's told. "No one's interested in me," he says. A club owner calls him "Hamlet," we suppose because he's sad? (Has anyone here read "Hamlet"?)

The spine of the story is Diamond's rise to international fame and wealth - bigger than Elvis, he tells us - despite his determined inability to be happy as he plows through three marriages and has multiple children. Loneliness as a child is identified late as a possible cause, in an excruciating final few minutes where you could hear a pin drop as he bares his soul and then that's instantly washed out in multiple brash songs - "Sweet Caroline" in a predictable reprise - and a nonsensical confetti drop.

The book by Anthony McCarten is clearly too respectful - Diamond's horrific movie acting decisions are quickly papered over, for example - and the direction by Michael Mayer never manages to reconcile the sadness with the highs. Diamond's through-line is not his music but his romantic relationships, and it's hard to cheer a rich guy who leaves a 25-year-long second marriage.

Some of the songs are nicely presented, like "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" as a duet between Diamond and his second wife, and a gospel-tinged "Holly Holy," but others are not: "Forever in Blue Jeans," is a mess, oversung by Wife No. 2 (Robyn Hurder) and choreographed with random dancers scurrying across the stage doing their own thing, as if in a busy train station. An awkward duet between Diamond's first and second wives is best forgotten, too.

It all seems to culminate in one song, a psychoanalytic breakthrough that's been hiding in plain sight: "I Am... I Said," with lyrics about a frog who became a king. This song apparently solves everything. Shouldn't the musical be called "Forever in Blue Genes"?

Audience participation is encouraged, and there are points when the show becomes a sing-a-long as it slides into pure pandering. "A Beautiful Noise" knows who its aging audience is and it gives them what they came for, complete with a Khrushchev joke. For the rest of us, there's always cocktails.




Mark Kennedy is at


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


  • iphone 14
    (2022-12-05 13:04:34Z)

    All characters are very convincing and Bradley Cooper’s intelligent Eddie is so entertaining, convincing and endearing that you eventually love the character and rejoice every time he has to explain anything to the normal humans.

  • ทางเข้า pragmatic play
    (2022-12-06 13:08:14Z)

    I have read all the comments and suggestions posted by the visitors for this article are very fine,We will wait for your next article so only.Thanks!I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here keep up the good work. Hey what a brilliant post I have come across and believe me I have been searching out for this similar kind of post for past a week and hardly came across this. Thank you very much and will look for more postings from you.

  • محامي قضايا عمالية
    (2022-12-11 13:35:13Z)

    This is certainly a amazing write-up. Thank you so much for taking the time to detail all of this out for all of us. It’s a great guide!

  • محامي بالرياض
    (2022-12-11 13:35:45Z)

    Hello, Neat post. There is a problem with your site in web explorer, might check this… IE nonetheless is the marketplace leader and a big component to other people will omit your wonderful writing due to this problem.

  • محامي قضايا تجارية
    (2022-12-11 13:36:29Z)

    I always visit your blog everyday to read new topics..~*”\"

  • محامي قضايا جنائية
    (2022-12-11 13:37:15Z)

    Awesome site! You’ve some quite interesting posts.. Nice background as well haha. Keep up the nice work, Ill make sure to come across to see really your page!

  • Nice post. I understand some thing much harder on various blogs everyday. Most commonly it is stimulating to study content off their writers and use a little something from their site. I’d prefer to apply certain with all the content on my small blog regardless of whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link on your internet weblog. Thanks for sharing.

  • we both have those traditional picture frames and digital picture frames at home. both are great for displaying family pictures,,

  • 747 Live
    (2022-12-17 10:43:40Z)

    sometimes i have a hard time choosing laptop accessories, there are just so many options to choose from,.

  • cleaning services dubai
    (2022-12-19 07:50:00Z)

    Nice knowledge gaining article. This post is really the best on this valuable topic.Admiring the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer!..Superbly written article, if only all bloggers offered the same content as you, the internet would be a far better place..Fabulous post. Thanks a ton for sharing your knowledge!I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked your site to check out the new stuff you post.Great write-up, I am a big believer in commenting on blogs to inform the blog writers know that they’ve added something worthwhile to the world wide web!..

  • 여우알바
    (2022-12-21 14:31:52Z)

    Admiring the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer!..

  • 메이저사이트
    (2022-12-21 14:32:13Z)

    Thanks for sharing us.

    (2022-12-21 19:34:47Z)

    This is my first visit to your web journal! We are a group of volunteers and new activities in the same specialty. Website gave us helpful data to work.This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free.Thank you because you have been willing to share information with us. we will always appreciate all you have done here because I know you are very concerned with our.

  • 바카라사이트
    (2022-12-22 15:34:04Z)

    Heya this is a good submit. I’ll electronic mail this kind of in order to my own close friends. My partner and i stumbled on this while looking upon google I will be certain to come back. thanks for revealing.

  • virtual private servers
    (2022-12-23 15:01:39Z)

    light and make it fundamental. More many people really need to read this and have an understanding of this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more

  • 건마
    (2022-12-23 16:26:44Z)

    I enjoy, lead to I found just what I was having a look for. You’ve ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

  • 온라인바카라
    (2023-01-04 15:03:06Z)

    I dont think Ive scan anything like this before. So good to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. nice one for starting this up. This site is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality. Good job for bringing something new to the internet!

  • 메이저바카라
    (2023-01-06 17:08:38Z)

    I really like this blog so much. I really don’t know exactly what to write other than I truly enjoyed reading through these blogs. I will keep visiting your website . I learned quite a bit from here.


Top News: Latin America