ABN-110139-017443-BwayDirectNewsletter-1200x450-SecFeatureNews (1)
ABN-110139-017443-BwayDirectNewsletter-1200x450-SecFeatureNews (1)

Producer Ken Davenport on A Beautiful Noise‘s Broadway Anniversary

The Neil Diamond jukebox bio-musical A Beautiful Noise is set to celebrate its first anniversary on Broadway December 4. The crowd-pleaser follows the young Neil from Brooklyn to his rise to superstardom. Tony-winning producer Ken Davenport co-leads the producing team for the show alongside another music great, Bob Gaudio. Entertainment journalist for Spectrum News NY1 Frank DiLella recently caught up with Davenport to chat about how he’s celebrating a full year on Broadway and to find out his most memorable moment with Neil Diamond.

Congratulations on your first anniversary!

It’s a thrill! We always knew that this show and the music would have a lasting appeal, but these days on Broadway, getting to a year is a really exciting moment.

Nick Fradiani in A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.
Nick Fradiani in A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

You also have a new full-time Neil Diamond in your show: American Idol winner Nick Fradiani.

Nick was an exciting addition to the team. When we saw him originally, we were like “Oh my gosh” — you close your eyes and he sounds like Neil. And he was doing this before the show came along. He grew up with his dad playing Neil Diamond and listening to Neil Diamond. He has this uncanny sound, and he was the winner of American Idol. So you put those two things together, and it’s a natural fit for him to take on the role.

What makes this show click for audiences?

We always knew the music would get people excited and would draw people in. Neil’s music has a lasting appeal. But what’s exciting to us is how much the story has gotten to people. And that’s what tells the tale of a long-running musical on Broadway: if you have a great story. It’s a story of this kid from Brooklyn, getting himself out of there and climbing his way to one of the most successful artists of all time.

You’re a very creative producer, a real “ideas” guy when it comes to producing. This includes offering Thursday matinees which is outside of the usual Broadway schedule, as well as offering a free glass of champagne to orchestra ticket holders at the New Year’s Eve performance.

The modern-day consumer is demanding more out of entertainment. They don’t just want to come to see a show, they want an experience. They want something they can talk about the next day at the watercooler that is different from everything else that anyone has seen and heard. And that’s extra important post-pandemic — to get people back into the theatre.

You’re also making the show accessible to folks who may not live in and around the city.

Listening to our consumers, they have said to us, “I don’t want to drive into the city.” We’ve said, “We’ll book your bus. You let us know when you want to come and we’ll book a bus for you and your friends to see the show.” We’ve run a couple trips from New Jersey. We have another one coming up for Long Island, and we have one coming up in January from Nick’s hometown in Connecticut.

On Broadway, you currently have two shows on the boards that have entertainment icons on their creative teams: Neil Diamond with A Beautiful Noise and Barry Manilow with Harmony. Talk about living the dream! 

I started my career 30 years ago as a PA [production assistant], and I still feel like that kid 30 years ago. To work with these two legends! I’m on Zooms or on phone calls with them sometimes and I’ll have to pull the phone away and say, “What is happening right now?” I’m talking to these unbelievable artists right now who I used to listen to, and I get to be involved with them in something that’s brand-new. It’s such a cliché, but I couldn’t have ever dreamed this.

Most memorable Neil Diamond experience thus far?

For me it was watching Neil on opening night, standing in the box and singing “Sweet Caroline” to that stage. As many people know, Neil stopped touring because of his battle with Parkinson’s, which is part of what our story is about. And to witness him to get a chance to do “that thing” again in the theatre where his story is being told night after night — it was unbelievable!

Learn More About A Beautiful Noise