Review: A BEAUTIFUL NOISE at The Emerson Colonial Theatre

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

By: Jul. 14, 2022
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A Beautiful Noise

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

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The holiday season is not complete without the perfect music to accompany it. Cast members from A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical came to record the classis Holly Holy written by Neil Diamond.  Sonny Paladino was the Musical Director of this recording. See photos from inside the studio!

Video: Watch A BEAUTIFUL NOISE Perform on the Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS Photo
Video: Watch A BEAUTIFUL NOISE Perform on the Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS

Watch Nick Fradiani and the cast of A Beautiful Noise perform 'Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show,' 'Coming to America' and 'Sweet Caroline' on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS!

Video: Behind the Scenes With A BEAUTIFUL NOISE at the Thanksgiving Day Parade Photo
Video: Behind the Scenes With A BEAUTIFUL NOISE at the Thanksgiving Day Parade

Go behind the scenes with A Beautiful Noise at the Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Robyn Hurder to Play Final Performance in A BEAUTIFUL NOISE in December Photo
Robyn Hurder to Play Final Performance in A BEAUTIFUL NOISE in December

Robyn Hurder will play her final performance at the Broadhurst Theatre in A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical on Sunday, December 17.

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