Gary Ryan (former Stars in Their Eyes Finalist) is a man with a voice, as one would expect. He also has stage presence in abundance. Sweet Caroline: Neil Diamond - The Ultimate Stageshow spent an evening at the Adelphi Theatre (current home of Back to the Future) and boy did it raise the roof. The staging was minimal, the facia for BTTF in place and on the stage a backdrop announcing the act of the night.
There is a back catalogue to Neil Diamond, spanning his life and songs he wrote for others including I'm a Believer for The Monkees, and Red, Red Wine for UB40. There is a loose structure to the show - the songs Diamond has written for others in the first half and his spectacular own musings in the second half; of particular delight was Play Me which roused more than a few cheers from the female audience. The show has all the hallmarks of being at a concert.
Ryan has an uncanny resemblance to the Diamond, and he has studied his book of business, the clothing, the growl in the voice and the ability to hold the audience in the palm of his hand. There was limited dialogue, some as Ryan, some as Diamond with a little of the history surrounding the songs. And yet the big numbers were still to come.
Of course, the titular song is always a draw and the reprise had everyone dancing in their seats and I would imagine, in the streets on their way out onto the Strand. Another stand out for me was You Dont Bring Me Flowers the particular arrangement and the accompanying singer turned it into a Streisand-esque sound that worked gloriously well. The musicians who accompany the Tribute Show are also multi-talented and the transition from song to song was seamless although in places a little rushed.
Given that Neil Diamond is no longer touring due to his condition, I am truly grateful that I got to see the closest thing I will to the real deal, live. If I closed my eyes for a split second, I was at a concert for the divine Neil Diamond and I was grateful that I got to indulge myself.
Tickets for the tour: here.
Review: Kay Johal