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Will Swenson to play Neil Diamond in Broadway-bound ‘A Beautiful Noise’

Will Swenson is no stranger to Neil Diamond's music.Emilio Madrid

Musical theater, TV, and film actor Will Swenson has been cast in the title role of “A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical,” which will have its world premiere and pre-Broadway run at the Emerson Colonial Theatre June 21-July 31.

Swenson, who has starred in Broadway productions including “Hair” (for which he received a Tony nomination), “Les Misérables,” and “Waitress,” credits his father for his own appreciation of Diamond’s extensive songbook.

“My dad is the biggest Neil Diamond fan and had an autographed poster hanging in the garage,” Swenson said in an interview with the Globe. “I grew up knowing every song and used to do Neil Diamond impressions at parties. My wife and I have sung ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’ at the end of a few of her concerts.”


Swenson is married to actress and singer Audra McDonald.

“A Beautiful Noise” will be directed by Michael Mayer (“Spring Awakening,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”), with choreography by Steven Hoggett (“Once,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”), and a book by four-time Academy Award nominee Anthony McCarten (“Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Two Popes”). The score will include a wide array of Diamond’s songs, from his early days as a songwriter to the hits he’d make his own as a best-selling artist and showman.

“It’s amazing,” Swenson said, “how many of his songs are part of our lives, no matter how old you are.”

Diamond’s catalog includes such classics as “America,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “I’m a Believer,” “Song Sung Blue,” and of course “Sweet Caroline,” the Fenway Park sing-along standard. Swenson says his dad has been lobbying for his own personal favorites, including “Red, Red Wine.” He was happy to be able to tell his father that one is in the show.

“I think at the moment I sing 23 songs, but some are just snippets when Neil is trying out songs or pitching ideas,” Swenson said. “Other cast members sing several more songs.”


Swenson wouldn’t reveal too much about the book for the musical, except to say that the story of Diamond’s life is told “from a really emotional standpoint. Anthony McCarten . . . doesn’t have any pre-conceived notions about musical theater structure.”

Director Mayer and choreographer Hoggett, said Swenson, “are inspired by that, and are playing with structure and form in really artistic and beautiful ways.”

While Swenson has worked steadily onstage and in TV and film and has been a leading man in several productions, his celebrity has been eclipsed by his wife’s accolades; McDonald has won six Tony Awards.

“I’m happy to be called Mr. Audra McDonald,” he said with a laugh. “I’m so lucky to be living with one of the best acting coaches in the world. I booked a TV show last year [Netflix’s ”First Kill”] and I know I was cast because of her coaching for the audition tape I sent.”

Tickets for “A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical” are on sale at www.emersoncolonialtheatre.com.