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Actor Linda Powell reflects on role in ‘A Beautiful Noise’

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Actor Linda Powell reflects on role in ‘A Beautiful Noise’

The strains of “Sweet Caroline” can now be heard from the Emerson Colonial Theatre as well as from Fenway Park. Running through July 31, “A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical,” tells the life story of the musician and composer who crafted Boston’s unofficial anthem.

The framework for the production shows an older Diamond in a session with his therapist, played by actor Linda Powell. Throughout the two-hour show, the duo works through the musician’s past, which leads to scenes of a younger Diamond and performances of his greatest hits.

“The doctor is really the lens through which the audiences take the ride with Neil Diamond throughout the play. She helps pull the story out as it goes,” says Powell. “We created a structure and a language that I think will surprise people. It’s to entertain, and people are singing along, but we’re also trying to tell a little bit of a deeper story.”

Mark Jacoby as present-day Neil Diamond and Linda Powell as his therapist in rehearsal for “A Beautiful Noise.” PHOTO: JENNY ANDERSON, COURTESY OF A BEAUTIFUL NOISE

For Powell, the show has provided a unique opportunity to participate in a musical even though she’s not a singer herself. Powell has been with the production since the initial days of workshopping the script. Now “A Beautiful Noise” is on a track to reach Broadway in the fall, with the Boston run a bit of a Broadway test. With the audience response and feedback from each evening, the show is tweaked a little bit to prepare it for the big New York stage.

Beyond reviewing Diamond’s classic music, the narrative performance brings up important reflections about the cycle of life. “It’s also got a special kind of resonance as we look at aging,” says Powell. “To be spending time with an older man looking back on his life is something that I think doesn’t get put on stage that much.”

But “A Beautiful Noise” hasn’t been all serious business. Some of the process has been quite literally fun and games. The cast attended a game at Fenway Park on June 18  to sing “Sweet Caroline” with the fans, and Diamond attended the opening night performance at the Colonial to kick off its run.

Powell says the energy and excitement of these events has been invigorating. “To be in a room full of people in community is something that doesn’t happen enough right now,” she says. “I think to be in community and to share in the joy of the memories the music brings up for people is powerful.”

arts, music, Neil Diamond, theater