For lifelong Neil Diamond fan Will Swenson, stepping into the role of the legendary singer in Broadway's new musical about Diamond's life, A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical, was a dream come true.
"Neil Diamond is my dad's favorite singer of all time," he tells PEOPLE of the singer's influence on his life. "I grew up with him in the house, just knew all of his songs just by osmosis, because I just heard all of them, knew all of them." As an attempt to "impress girls," Swenson recalls learning to play the guitar, which of course meant picking up some of Diamond's tunes.
"I remember doing those around the campfire, and because I'm sort of a baritone, I remember trying to make a Neil Diamond sound," he notes of Diamond's unique sound, which is described in the show as "gravel wrapped in velvet." "It sort of became this party trick that I could do Neil Diamond."
What began as a "party trick" ended up being his ticket to a starring role on Broadway in New York City.
Swenson, whose first Broadway credit came in 2004, was approached by a producer who had heard about his ability to do "a pretty good Neil Diamond," he recalls...READ MORE