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Arts | Culture

Neil Diamond musical has its eyes on Broadway, with a ‘Jersey Boys’ connection

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Is a new Neil Diamond stage musical aiming for Broadway? It is, they said.

“They” being the producers of the project about the pop-music icon behind such enduring songs as “I Am ... I Said.”

Those producers include a key figure from the La Jolla Playhouse megahit “Jersey Boys.”

The as-yet untitled Diamond project doesn’t have a theater or even a Broadway timeline set yet, but it does have an impressive creative team that includes director Michael Mayer, the “Spring Awakening” Tony Award winner whose credits also include the Green Day musical “American Idiot.”

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And the show’s co-producer is Bob Gaudio — co-founder of the Four Seasons, whose story was told in “Jersey Boys,” the Playhouse-launched show that ran for more than a decade on Broadway.

“Having been intimately associated with one very special biographical musical, I am clearly a fan of the form,” Gaudio said in the project announcement this week. “And as a fellow member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I remain in awe of Neil Diamond’s contribution to American popular culture (and) music, and of his incredible life story.”

Diamond himself also weighed in: “I’ve always loved Broadway,” he said. “The inspiration for many of my early songs came from shows like ‘West Side Story,’ ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ so it seems only fitting to bring my songs to the Great White Way.

“I’m honored and excited to be working with this great team.”

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That team also includes writer Anthony McCarten, a three-time Oscar nominee whose most recent film is “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the Queen biopic.

Gaudio’s production partner on the project is the Broadway veteran Ken Davenport.

Considering Diamond’s expansive song catalog, which boasts such vintage hits as “Sweet Caroline,” “Song Sung Blue” and “Cracklin’ Rosie,” the 78-year-old singer-songwriter seems a natural for a jukebox-musical project.

And it’s not too much of a stretch to think the Playhouse could be a candidate for a pre-Broadway staging of the show, given the theater’s long track record with “Jersey Boys” and such more recent musicals as Jimmy Buffett’s “Escape to Margaritaville.”

Of course, the crosstown Old Globe Theatre also has rock musicals on its resume, including the recent Huey Lewis project “The Heart of Rock & Roll” and the upcoming Cameron Crowe show “Almost Famous.”

Meanwhile: Another stage project about a musical icon has recently been rumored to be headed for the Playhouse.

The website showbiz411.com said a show about the late pianist and showman Liberace is in the works, as an adaptation of the HBO miniseries “Behind the Candelabra.”

The item said the musical’s prospective director is Christopher Ashley, the Playhouse’s artistic chief and a Tony Award winner for the still-running, Playhouse-bred Broadway hit “Come From Away.” It also asserted the production “will start there,” meaning the La Jolla theater.

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The Playhouse had no official comment.


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