Review: Lackluster Beautiful Noise fails to sell the music

Chris Curcio | Special for The Republic | June 17, 2005

The Neil Diamond Collection

So-called jukebox musicals have ravaged Broadway for years. Occasionally, a show like the long-running ABBA-inspired Mamma Mia succeeds because it frames that tribute with a plausible story. Others, like Smokey Joe’s Cafe, provide a meaningful context for that winning Leiber and Stoller homage.

Too often these shows become nothing more than random collections of hit tunes. That problem plagues A Beautiful Noise – The Neil Diamond Songbook, created by Peter J. Hill, at Copperstate Dinner Theater.

Hill links more than two dozen great Diamond hits in a meaningless context sung by six mostly uninspiring performers. Hill’s creativity stops at putting songs about alcohol in a bar or giving his performers suitcases for songs related to travel.

There’s only one bright spot among the lackluster performers.

The blessing is Elizabeth Reeves, a dark-haired singer who belts a song with style, sincerity, authority and a natural ease missing in her fellow performers. She stops the show in her one solo, I Believe in Happy Endings, and wins in several duets with her partner, Charlie Jourdan, who is the best of the men.

But unlike Reeves, Jourdan and his compatriots move awkwardly, dance haltingly and seem ill at ease crooning these wonderful Diamond hits. They fail to sell the music with inspiration, and they add no personality to the stories being told by the songs. Hill’s simple staging and Noel Irick’s routine choreography aren’t handled without obvious effort by this cast.

Technical glitches further stifle this revue. A terrible sound system distorts the weak voices, and recorded orchestral accompaniment couldn’t have more miserable arrangements.

Creating a musical revue that tributes a composer is much harder than it looks. A Beautiful Noise fails because a dynamic revue has to do so much more than just collect and sing a bunch of tunes weakly. If you aren’t a Diamond fan, this revue won’t convert you, and if you are a fan, you’ll yearn for more creative twists on favorite tunes.

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