Interview: AMERICAN IDOL Winner Nick Fradiani Talks Making His Broadway Debut in A BEAUTIFUL NOISE

Fradiani shares what he loves most about the world of musical theatre, how it feels to play Neil Diamond after growing up loving his music, and more!

By: Jan. 23, 2023
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Interview: AMERICAN IDOL Winner Nick Fradiani Talks Making His Broadway Debut in A BEAUTIFUL NOISE
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Nick Fradiani is currently making his Broadway debut as Alternate Neil Diamond - Then in A Beautiful Noise! Fradiani, who won "American Idol," in 2015, went on to release his debut solo project, Hurricane in 2016, featuring the hit single "Beautiful Life." Since 2017, he has toured the country and independently released multiple singles including "I'll Wait For You," "Scared," "Never Gonna," and "Empire."

Fradiani's venture into the world of musical theatre is a recent one- he made his musical debut in the National tour of A Bronx Tale in 2019!

In the latest edition of BroadwayWorld's Debut of the Month, Fradiani tells us what he loves most about joining the world of musical theatre, playing Neil Diamond after growing up loving his music, and more!

Read the full interview and check out photography by BroadwayWorld's own Jennifer Broski below!

You won American Idol in 2015, you've toured the country with your music, and you've since made the jump to musical theatre. What has that transition to musical theatre been like for you?

A Beautiful Noise

It's been really enjoyable! If you told me I'd be in a musical seven years ago I would have never ever believed you. I had no background in it, no understanding of it, and I feel like I've kind of been thrown into this crash course since 2019 when I did my first musical, which was A Bronx Tale, I did the national tour. I had an incredibly enjoyable experience with that. I fell in love with the role I was playing, and I met my girlfriend on that tour, and she's been in musical theatre her whole life, she's currently in Moulin Rouge! The Musical. We got stuck in quarantine together, and I just started inundating myself with musicals, and I got kind of got obsessed with it. And then I got an agent, I have my own agent for my regular music, but I got an agent for musical theatre, and I was able to book A Beautiful Noise. That's been my trajectory so far, and it's been a lot of fun.

It's a cool trajectory, it's unlike most musical theatre actors, who, by the time they're three, are obsessed with Les Mis, and know that they want to do this with their life.

I know, I'm having that at 36! It took me by surprise. And then once I moved to New York, I've just been going and seeing so many shows, especially while we were rehearsing. It's been really cool to live in New York, I've lived all over the place, LA, and Nashville, and even though I'm from the East Coast, I've never lived in the city. I live on the West side, so to walk to Broadway and see all the bright lights like they talk about, and go to a show, it's a really cool experience.

It's in your bio, your first concert was a Neil Diamond concert. How has it been for you stepping into his shoes and playing this role?

A Beautiful NoiseIt's pretty crazy. I grew up, my dad is a lifelong musician, that's what he did to support our family my whole life, he was traveling, and playing all over, and he was a huge Neil Diamond fan, he used to do a Neil Diamond set in his show when I was a little kid, we used to listen to his Christmas album a lot. So, I remember when I was 10 or 11 I would joke around and do the Neil Diamond voice to Christmas songs. I don't know if that's what made me able to emulate his voice so well, but that's kind of what happened! I remember my music agent, six or seven years ago was like, "You kind of sound like a young Neil Diamond." And I was like, "No, I don't," I just didn't hear it.

It's funny, I just put out a video of myself singing 'I Am... I Said', which is a big moment in the show, I did an acoustic version of it while I was back home in Connecticut, and it's going totally viral, and it's all Neil Diamond fanatics. It's amazing to see the effect he's had on so many people. I'm reading these comments, it's thousands and thousands of people that have been brought back to their childhood, which is similar to how I get when I sing these songs, because it brings me back to my childhood. So, it's been really special. My dad was in tears watching it when I made my debut, and I feel like I was meant to do this. I didn't go into this knowing what an Alternate or Standby was, I just knew that I wanted to do the role, and when I saw that it was available, I just went for it. I just feel like it's this passion project for me, like something I'm supposed to do.

What did it feel like to take your first bow on Broadway?

Honestly, the first one, I was so stressed out throughout it that it was like by the time I got to that bow I was so relieved and overwhelmed with gratitude. I almost teared up because I have had a very up and down career since "Idol", I've been working my butt off for over a decade in the music business, and to move, and keep battling into doing whatever I can to perform, which is what I love, to end up on a Broadway stage was pretty mind-blowing. There are really no words for it, it's truly a once in a lifetime feeling. Luckily, nowadays, people videotape tape it, so I was able to watch it back and enjoy that bow.

What has been the most exciting and/or surprising part for you about making your Broadway debut with A Beautiful Noise?

A Beautiful NoiseWell, I was always in bands and stuff growing up, and then after "American Idol" I went solo, and it's kind of cool to get back into a team, camaraderie-type feeling like a musical gives you. I've become such close friends with everybody in this cast, the ensemble especially, the Swings, just to see how hard they work. That bond, you win together, you lose together, it's like when you're in a band and you have each other, you created something, and it's special, and it stays within you guys, and it's something I didn't really realize until I started doing musical theatre. Sometimes I'm like, "Dang, I wish I'd been doing this since high school!" It's so fun, and the people are so kind, and amazing, and they welcomed me, and it was really cool. That's been one of my favorite parts so far, getting to become friends with all different kinds of people. That's been my favorite part.

What is your favorite Neil Diamond song listen to, and your favorite Neil Diamond song to perform?

In the show, there's a moment in Act I, when I sing a song called, 'Solitary Man', and it takes place when Neil is making his first ever live performance at this little club, The Bitter End, so, there's this moment where he's making his debut, and he's super nervous, and nobody is really paying attention to him, and he sings this song, and that's kind of how I started playing music. I was 18 or 19, my dad was a singer at all different places, so he got me this agent at 18, they used to sneak me in, I would play restaurants, bars, whatever, and nobody would really listen to me. So, it just feels like the way I came up. Obviously, I never reached Neil Diamond level, but I can really put myself in that moment. It's kind of a slowed-down, acoustic version, the beginning is just me singing with a guitar, which is what I've done my whole life. So, that's my favorite moment to perform in the show.

My favorite Neil Diamond song is 'I I Am... I Said'. I think that's his strongest songwriting song, it's really deep, and I love the way it starts out very simple, and builds up to this epic ending and chorus. So, I'd say that's my favorite of his songs.

A Beautiful Noise

What do you want to tell people who are planning to come see A Beautiful Noise?

Well, one, if you're a Neil Diamond fan, you're going to totally lose your mind, you're going to love it. But, if you don't know Neil Diamond, I can guarantee and promise you're going to have fun. It's a performance-packed piece, the ensemble, and the dancing is just incredible. In parts in Act II, you feel like you're at an arena rock concert in the '80s, which is super cool. But also, not a lot of people know the story of Neil Diamond, it's never been told, and the way in which the story is written, is really cool. It's basically Neil Diamond seeing a therapist as an older man, there's a Neil - Now, who is in therapy, and then Neil - Then, who is who I, and Will Swenson, play. And it's him looking back at his life, talking to a therapist, and trying to get over some issues that he has. So, it's wild how it goes from these quiet, little therapy sessions to these monster rock concerts, back into these therapy sessions. It's a moving piece, the first time I ever saw it done in rehearsals, I cried at the end pretty heavily. So, it's a deep piece, but you're guaranteed to have a lot of fun.

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