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‘A Beautiful Noise’: The Neil Diamond Musical Is So Good, So Good!

If you are heading to Broadway in New York City to see A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical you are coming specifically to hear the iconic singer/songwriter’s music, no doubt. From “I’ll Come Running” / “I Got the Feelin’ (Oh No, No)” / “I’m a Believer” at the inception, when aspiring artist Neil Diamond (Nick Fradiani) meets with songwriter and producer Ellie Greenwich (Bri Sudia), to “Cracklin’ Rosie” to “Holly Holy,” which concludes the show, you will simply want to get up and sing and dance. Nick Fradiani (who replaced original star Will Swenson last October) masterfully carries this show, with a voice and look perfectly similar to Neil Diamond.

Particularly noteworthy was Fradiani recreating Diamond’s signature hit, “Sweet Caroline.” It ends Act 1 as Young Neil finds the inspiration to write this massive hit song. And it serves as the addendum to the show when the cast takes their bows amid much of the audience singing along.

In A Beautiful Noise, Neil Diamond’s story is told via flashbacks framed through the current day Diamond’s (Neal Benari) conversations with his therapist (Shirine Babb). Just how did a poor Jewish kid from Brooklyn become one of the most universally beloved musical artist of all time? And why is the modern day version of this musical legend so depressed?

In the present day, Diamond has been sent by his third wife Katie to this doctor to work on his communication issues. But Diamond doesn’t want to, at least not initially. And we are taken through his life, by way of therapy, with consistently entertaining musical interludes showcasing the career of a man, now 82, who has released 39 albums and sold over 130 million records (10 of which hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts).

After a few unmemorable therapy sessions, the doctor pulls out a book of Diamond’s lyrics as a means of exploring where he was emotionally when he wrote them. From here, the show expands into a rousing concert revue of the Diamond catalog, complete with the conversations of the two in the background, as Fradiani and the ensemble perform his hits through the events of his life.

For example, while still married to his first wife, Jaye (Paige Faure), Diamond falls for Marcia (Amber Ardolino), who eventually feels neglected by her constantly touring husband as witnessed in her lively rendition of “Forever in Blue Jeans.”

Shortly later, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” signals the end of Neil and Marcia’s 25-year-marriage. And, in the wake of his second divorce, “Pretty Amazing Grace” showcases Diamond’s recollection of meeting his current wife, Katie.

Flashing backwards, single “Coming to America” celebrates the story of immigrants, Diamond’s family included, seeking a better life. Neil’s parents, Rose (Bri Sudia) and Kieve (Tom Alan Robbins), sing it alongside him.

By the show’s end, not surprisingly, modern day Neil Diamond pulls out of his funk, celebrating Diamond’s ultimate and undeniable success amid his hardships via the aforementioned “Holly Holy.”

“Coming to terms with my life and accepting it has somehow come full circle.” wrote Neil Diamond in the Playbill for A Beautiful Noise. “I feel fortunate and full of gratitude for all the people in my life. In each of them who have impacted and shaped me in their own way to get me to the place where I am now…a better man. A better father. A better husband. A better songwriter.”

At first glance, A Beautiful Noise at the comfortable Broadhurst Theater in New York City looks like the traditional Broadway musical. But, in this atypical therapy-themed flashback model, what we witnessed was the life of a man we might have assumed had it all. Through his music, however, he found his path, ultimately rising to one of the most accomplished pop singers and songwriters of our era.

People of all ages packed into the theater, including some of the younger demo groups not even familiar with all his songs. As we left, we were united in our sheer awe of the library music from an artist that simply transcends time.