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Producers Ken Davenport and Bob Gaudio on Monday announced that an untitled new biographical musical telling the life story of the chart-topping singer-songwriter is in development for Broadway. Michael Mayer, a Tony Award winner for Spring Awakening whose credits also include the Green Day musical American Idiot and the smash revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, is attached to direct.
Anthony McCarten, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and producer for The Theory of Everything and Darkest Hour, who also scripted the blockbuster Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, is writing the book for the show, which will feature a score drawn from across the ample selection of Diamond’s greatest hits.
“I’ve always loved Broadway,” Diamond said in a statement. “The inspiration for many of my early songs came from shows like West Side Story 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.”
Added McCarten: “On the mantelpiece 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 catalog 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!'”
Davenport produced the 2018 Tony-winning revival of Once on This Island. Gaudio, as a songwriter and founding member of The Four Seasons, was involved in one of the defining hits of the jukebox musical subgenre, Jersey Boys. He also has a long association with Diamond, having produced six of the artist’s albums, including The Jazz Singer.
Diamond has sold 130 million records worldwide, and released 39 Top 40 singles, 16 Top 10 albums and 10 songs that went to No. 1. His hits include “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Song Sung Blue,” “Holly Holy,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Solitary Man” and the Barbra Streisand duet “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” His 1972 double album Hot August Night, recorded during sold-out concerts at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles the year before, is widely considered one of the all-time great live rock albums and was a quintessential soundtrack of that era.
The singer’s 1967 chart hit, “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” received a second life when it was featured in an iconic scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, while “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” has a prominent spot in Tarantino’s new film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The bio-musical will trace Diamond’s origins from a poor Jewish kid in Brooklyn through his emergence as a songwriting force in the 1960s, his rise to superstardom in the ’70s and the triumphs and disappointments that have marked his five decades in music.
Additional details, including a timeline for the production, are to be announced.
The project becomes the latest in Broadway’s steady stream of jukebox shows. Current entries include Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of The Temptations and The Cher Show, with Tina: The Tina Turner Musical coming in the fall.
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