For Will Swenson, the music of Neil Diamond is the soundtrack of fatherhood.
“My first memory, period, is listening to a track tape of ’Hot August Night’ in my dad’s white van. We were moving from Colorado to California, and I hadn’t turned four yet,” Swenson recalls. “My dad liked Neil so much that there was a picture of him hanging up in our garage. He was always playing Neil on a loop; he never took that tape out of his car.”
Now, Swenson plays his father’s favorite singer-songwriter eight times a week in A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre.
Swenson, who is the grandson of Utah theatre impresario Ruth Hale, was urged toward the theatre from an early age, but his inner rock star didn’t come into effect until his early teenage years. Neither of his parents played instruments, but they were scattered throughout the family home. One day Swenson picked up a guitar, intending to impress his eighth-grade crush. Jim Croce’s “Lovers Cross” left the object of his affections rather cross, but he stuck with it.
Diamond now plays guitar during A Beautiful Noise, accompanying himself on many of Diamond’s hit songs, such as “Sweet Caroline” and “Cracklin' Rosie.” “My high school buddy Peter said, ‘You’ve been preparing for this role your entire life.’ And I guess there is some truth to that,” Swenson says. “Neil is like a part of my family, he’s been in my life since the beginning...READ MORE