Broadway’s Neil Diamond show isn’t so good, so good
NEW YORK (AP) — There are some fascinating cocktails on supply at “The Neil Diamond Musical: A Lovely Noise” on Broadway and it may not be such a nasty concept to order a Candy Clementine or a Cracklin’ Rosé earlier than you get to your seat. Simply one thing to assist lubricate one of the crucial puzzling jukebox musicals in years.
The present that opened Sunday on the Broadhurst Theatre is kind of a miserable journey by way of Diamond’s life, providing a respectful and, sure, totally approved portrait that is unnecessarily boastful — “40 high 40 hits;120 million albums bought,” we’re advised — in addition to positively cringey.
The vanity is that an older Diamond is reluctantly present process remedy to determine why he is such a tragic sack. (“That is formally torture,” he snarls — not the easiest way to start out a musical.) A Diamond lyric songbook that his psychologist provides supplies a visit again in time to key moments in his life, like “Candy Caroline,” “Music Sung Blue,” “America” and “Cracklin’ Rosie.”
That is when an incredible Will Swenson as a younger Diamond digs deep into his throat to offer a portrait of a tortured artist as a younger man, dripping in lamé and spangles. Swenson is insanely nice in each quantity, elevating superficial materials to excessive heights and even enjoying a imply guitar. “How we doing tonight, Broadway?” he asks. We’re consuming out of your hand, sir.
However here is the primary drawback: The older Diamond (Mark Jacoby) STAYS onstage in a leather-based chair, trying glum over the present’s two hours, throughout some very thrilling musical numbers. He and his therapist simply linger throughout many of the present like undesirable houseguests. It will get positively creepy. Possibly they deserve the cocktails?
Different weird selections rapidly come at you, like why 10 dancers have emerged from Diamond’s chair to behave as a deranged refrain, why set designer David Rockwell has two dozen random dinning room lights hanging at numerous heights and why choreographer Steven Hoggett has gone from small hand actions to over-the-top Vegas choreography with no coherence.
We undergo the time when Diamond wrote hit after hit for others — “I’m a Believer” for The Monkees, “Pink Pink Wine” for UB40 — however he is low on confidence. “You are too good,” he is advised. “Nobody’s thinking about me,” he says. A membership proprietor calls him “Hamlet,” we suppose as a result of he is unhappy? (Has anybody right here learn “Hamlet”?)
The backbone of the story is Diamond’s rise to worldwide fame and wealth — larger than Elvis, he tells us — regardless of his decided incapability to be joyful as he plows by way of three marriages and has a number of kids. Loneliness as a toddler is recognized late as a attainable trigger, in an excruciating closing couple of minutes the place you could possibly hear a pin drop as he bares his soul after which that is immediately washed out in a number of brash songs — “Candy Caroline” in a predictable reprise — and a nonsensical confetti drop.
The e book by Anthony McCarten is clearly too respectful — Diamond’s horrific film performing choices are rapidly papered over, for instance — and the route by Michael Mayer by no means manages to reconcile the disappointment with the highs. Diamond’s through-line is just not his music however his romantic relationships, and it’s laborious to cheer a wealthy man who leaves a 25-year-long second marriage.
A few of the songs are properly introduced, like “You Don’t Convey Me Flowers” as a duet between Diamond and his second spouse, and a gospel-tinged “Holly Holy,” however others aren’t: “Endlessly in Blue Denims,” is a large number, oversung by Spouse No. 2 (Robyn Hurder) and choreographed with random dancers scurrying throughout the stage doing their very own factor, as if in a busy practice station. A clumsy duet between Diamond’s first and second wives is finest forgotten, too.
All of it appears to culminate in a single tune, a psychoanalytic breakthrough that is been hiding in plain sight: “I Am… I Mentioned,” with lyrics a couple of frog who turned a king. This tune apparently solves every part. Should not the musical be known as “Endlessly in Blue Genes”?
Viewers participation is inspired, and there are factors when the present turns into a sing-a-long because it slides into pure pandering. “A Lovely Noise” is aware of who its getting older viewers is and it offers them what they got here for, full with a Khrushchev joke. For the remainder of us, there’s at all times cocktails.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits