Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Review: A BEAUTIFUL NOISE at The Emerson Colonial Theatre

Review: A BEAUTIFUL NOISE at The Emerson Colonial Theatre

This production runs now through August 7 before heading to Broadway.

Biographical jukebox musicals are becoming more and more common. They use a singer and/or songwriter's music to tell that person's life story. The most recent addition to the cannon is A Beautiful Noise: THE Neil Diamond MUSICAL (now playing at the Emerson Colonial Theatre until August 7th).

A BEAUTIFUL NOISE begins with Neil Diamond "now" (Mark Jacoby) with his therapist (Linda Powell) as they discuss why he's there. We learn that his current wife encouraged him to be there. He is apprehensive at first and it takes a while to get him to open up. The Doctor is finally able to get Diamond to open up by using his lyrics. We are brought back to the 60s where we find Diamond (the younger version who is played by Will Swenson) struggling to find his songs. Finally, he convinces Ellie Greenwich (Bri Sudia) to become his agent by playing her one of his songs ("I'm a Believer"). We then watch as Diamond's career takes off and the struggles that came along with it. Diamond's story isn't all that unique. He struggles, finds someone who gives him a chance, his career takes off, he cheats on his wife, marries the woman he cheated with, essentially abandons his family, divorces again, remarries, and then retires. What makes this show unique, however, is the story-telling device used. The story is told through the lens of Diamond's therapy session. This makes for interesting story-telling as we can get a sense of what Diamond may have been feeling during key moments throughout his life. The music in this show rarely serves to tell the story. It is often, especially in Act 2, just used to show Diamond performing. There are very few instances in the show where the music tells us exactly how the character is feeling or moves the story along like music would in a traditional musical where the songs are written specifically for the show and to tell the story.

Swenson plays an incredibly convincing Neil Diamond. Both his speaking and his singing voice were near identical to Diamond's. The role cannot be easy but Swenson holds up throughout the entire performance. The biggest stand-out of the night from the cast was the ensemble (known in the program as "The Beautiful Noise"). They were incredibly versatile and energetic. They effortlessly pulled off Steven Hoggett's impressive choreography and AnnMarie Milazzo's/Sonny Paladino's complex vocal arrangements at the same time.

The set design by David Rockwell is simple but works very well for this fast-moving show. We never spent more than ten minutes at a specific "location" but you could easily tell where each scene took place. Rockwell was aided by lighting designer Kevin Adams. Adams' lighting transitioned easily between storytelling and concert lighting when needed, making use of many practicals hung in the air.

This show is clearly written with a specific audience in mind and it caters to that audience as well. While I appreciate his music, I admittedly wouldn't consider myself a Neil Diamond fan. This lead me to wonder to myself during the performance "why this story, and why are we telling it now?" And upon reflection, I don't think this show sets out to change the world or shape the future of musical theatre. I believe it was created to highlight this important person in the world of music and show the world a little more of who he is. While not a Diamond fan, I did find this show fun to watch and enjoyable for the most part. The highlight of the evening for me was during the act 1 closer- "Sweet Caroline." Being in a theatre full of Bostonians, the energy was through the roof with this number and it was amazing to experience. I do not doubt that this show will become Neil Diamond fans' favorite musical as it panders well to that audience but I think anyone who sees this show will have a good time.

A BEAUTIFUL NOISE: THE Neil Diamond MUSICAL plays now through August 7th at the Emerson Colonial Theatre. The book is written by Anthony McCarten and the music and lyrics are written by Neil Diamond. The show features designs by David Rockwell (scenic), Emilio Sosa (costume), Kevin Adams (lighting), Jessica Paz (sound), Luc Verschueren (hair, wig, and makeup), and AnnMarie Milazzo (vocal). The score features dance music arrangements by Brian Usifer and orchestrations by Bob Gaudio, Sonny Paladino, and Brian Usifer. Austin Regan serves as associate director with Yasmine Lee as associate choreographer. Matthew Leiner serves as production stage manager.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

Regional Awards

Related Stories

From This Author - Erik Bailey

He is a graduate of Dean College where he earned a BA in Theatre with a concentration in musical theatre. In his thirteen years in the world of theatre he has seen both onstage and off in a multitu... (read more about this author)


Review: A BEAUTIFUL NOISE at The Emerson Colonial TheatreReview: A BEAUTIFUL NOISE at The Emerson Colonial Theatre
July 14, 2022

Biographical jukebox musicals are becoming more and more common. They use a singer and/or songwriter’s music to tell that person’s life story. The most recent addition to the cannon is A BEAUTIFUL NOISE: THE NEIL DIAMOND MUSICAL (now playing at the Emerson Colonial Theatre until August 7th). 

Review: American Repertory Theater and Roundabout Theatre Company's 1776 is a Master Class in Musical Theatre RevivalsReview: American Repertory Theater and Roundabout Theatre Company's 1776 is a Master Class in Musical Theatre Revivals
July 8, 2022

It is no surprise to anyone that we are living in an incredibly politically charged time. One can’t help but wonder if this is the future our Founding Fathers had envisioned for our country. 1776 gives us a look at what may have been going through their minds when leading America to its independence.

BWW Review: THE INHERITANCE at SpeakEasy Stage is a Six and a Half Hour Look at How Our Lives Make a Lasting ImpactBWW Review: THE INHERITANCE at SpeakEasy Stage is a Six and a Half Hour Look at How Our Lives Make a Lasting Impact
June 2, 2022

'He has a story to tell- it is banging around inside him, aching to come out. But how does he begin?' These are the first words the audience of SpeakEasy Stage's production of Matthew López's play THE INHERITANCE. The six-and-a-half-hour play (presented in two parts) explores what it means to write the 'story of our lives' and how our place in the world impacts those who come after us.

BWW Review: MISS HOLMES RETURNS at Greater Boston Stage Company is a Captivating Twist On One of Literature's Most Well Known CharactersBWW Review: MISS HOLMES RETURNS at Greater Boston Stage Company is a Captivating Twist On One of Literature's Most Well Known Characters
April 24, 2022

Sherlock Holmes is one of literature’s most well-known characters. Through the years, many people have tried to adapt Holmes to different time periods and situations. But none that I have come across have done so as successfully as Christopher M. Walsh does in MISS HOLMES RETURNS, now playing at the Greater Boston Stage Company through May 8th.

BWW Review: BURGERZ at EMERSON PARAMOUNT CENTER JACKIE LIEBERGOTT BLACK BOX is a Captivating Look at Privilege and our Place in SocietyBWW Review: BURGERZ at EMERSON PARAMOUNT CENTER JACKIE LIEBERGOTT BLACK BOX is a Captivating Look at Privilege and our Place in Society
April 18, 2022

The moment we are conceived, society tries to tell us who we are and who we should be. Before we even get the chance to breathe our parents and their doctors determine our gender and how that makes us who we are. But if anyone chooses to break from these norms and live their lives how they so choose, they are ridiculed by society and cast aside.