By now, fans of Neil Diamond know that the man is from New York. He references the city in a string of time-held hits like “New York Boy,” “Brooklyn Roads” and “I Am…I Said.” In that last song, Diamond croons, “Well I’m New York City born and raised / But nowadays / I’m lost between two shores / L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home / New York’s home / But it ain’t mine no more.” The refrain paints a picture of a forlorn man, passing through the skies and two distinct lives. The song exudes emotional imagery, but withholds details of what exactly causes Diamond’s low spirits. Regretfully, Broadway’s “A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical” — written by Anthony McCarten and directed by Michael Mayer — follows suit.
The musical opens as a play. Present-day, 80-something-year-old Neil Diamond (a sublime Mark Jacoby) sits in therapy with his Doctor (a quietly forceful Linda Powell) and she probes him about his history of chronic loneliness. The psychoanalysis set-up lures us in with a promise of revelation: What better way to delve into the intimacies of such a well-known man than from a therapist’s chair? We soon find out, however, that neither Diamond nor McCarten are willing to share much.