On Broadway there are two big trends going on right now. One is to take popular movies and transform them into musicals (Pretty Woman, King Kong, Mean Girls, Tootsie, etc.) and the other is to take the songs of an artist and turn them into either a bio-musical or a “jukebox musical.” The latter includes shows like Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, The Cher Show, Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations and forthcoming productions based on Tina Turner, Judy Garland, Michael Jackson and, now, Neil Diamond.
Although he’s officially retired from touring (sadly because of a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease), Neil is coming to Broadway. Or at least his songs are, in the form of a new bio-musical that is in development for which he’ll provide the music and the book/script will be by Anthony McCarten, the writer of the recent Queen bio-film, Bohemian Rhapsody. Directing is Michael Mayer, who has previous staged Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Spring Awakening.
Enthuses Anthony in a statement, “On the mantle-piece in my childhood home in New Zealand, there were always two pictures: one was of the Pope, the other of Neil Diamond. The epic musical catalogue of this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer flowed endlessly off our family record player. As a child you took it into yourself, and to this day I can recite the lyrics of his hits deep into their second or third verses. Imagine my excitement, then, when the opportunity arose to work with Neil on a musical based on his life and music. A very, very easy and so sweet ‘Yes!’”
Those “hits” he refers to includes such songs as “Sweet Caroline,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “America,” “Solitary Man,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” and “Heartlight.”
For his part, Neil offers in a statement, “I’ve always loved Broadway. The inspiration for many of my early songs came from shows like West Side Story, My Fair Lady and Fiddler on the Roof, so it seems only fitting to bring my songs to The Great White Way. I’m honored and excited to be working with this great team.”