The life and music of Neil Diamond on Broadway. And I’m honored to be producing.
It was last spring. And I couldn’t have been busier.
But when this mentor/friend calls, I pick up the phone. I don’t care where I am or what I’m doing. I answer.
And this story is an example of why.
“Ken, I’d like you to talk to someone,” my mentor said.
I’ve learned that when this mentor-o-mine tells me I should chat with someone, I don’t ask “Who?” I just ask, “When?”
He told me the match he was about to make for me was with none other than real life Jersey Boy and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame himself, Mr. Bob Gaudio.
“I’m going to give him your cell.”
I told him to have Bob call me anytime, and I didn’t even care what the reason was, even though we were an hour from an invited audience at our workshop, I had a conference call for Once On This Island scheduled for intermission, and I still didn’t know how to make a tight swaddle. I mean, I was going to get a chance to talk to Bob “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” Gaudio!
Bob called me less than fifteen minutes later, which is how I knew we’d get along. Because he wasted no time. This was a guy who wanted to get moving and get moving fast.
And that’s when I learned that Bob, who had been Neil Diamond’s producer on four albums and his friend for decades, had been talking to his chart-bustin’ buddy about bringing a musical based on his life and songs to Broadway. And they were looking for a partner.
So I said I had to think about it . . .
LOL. JK. JK.
I said yes. And we were off and running.
And for the past year, little did you know that this project, about the man who wrote “America,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” and, yeah, “Sweet Caroline,” has been simmering on the stove.
But we needed a few more ingredients . . . like a writer.
So I called one of my favorite agents, who told me he wasn’t sure if he had anybody right for what we wanted to do.
Two days later, he called me and said he had just met with two time Academy Award-winner Anthony McCarten (Theory of Everything, The Darkest Hour), who was also the hottest screenwriter in Hollywood thanks to a little film he wrote called Bohemian Rhapsody (!) . . . and that Anthony just happened to mention that he had two photos on his mantle at his home in New Zealand when he was a kid: The Pope . . . and yep, Neil Diamond.
So, he was in.
And then we needed a director.
My first Broadway Company Management gig was Thoroughly Modern Millie, helmed by Michael Mayer. I remember watching him work then, thinking how versatile he was. He was known for plays like Side Man and A View From The Bridge but also turned out a You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and here he was working on Millie (and helping to turn it into a Tony Award-winning Best Musical, by the way). He went on to captain Spring Awakening, American Idiot, and so many more. Everything he did was unique and theatrical, which is what Bob and I were looking for.
Would you know it, he was a Neil Diamond fan too.
And he was in.
Neil Diamond. Bob Gaudio. Anthony McCarten. Michael Mayer.
Sorry, but pinching me isn’t going to work. Someone is going to have to punch me in the face so I can make sure this ain’t no Broadway producin’ dream.
So yeah, it’s real, and today, we’re thrilled to announce that this new untitled bio-musical, about a man who has sold over 130 million records and counting, with 10 Top 10 hits, is on its way to the stage with the storytelling magic of Anthony McCarten and Michael Mayer.
It’s still early, so that’s all the news I have right now. So you’ll have to watch this space for updates. I don’t even have a timeline as of yet.
But, I can say this . . . this one will probably come together quicker than most musicals.
Because we’ve already got a score. And it’s pretty effin’ great.
(You know, we were going to delay this announcement until after the 4th . . . but then it dawned on us . . . it just seemed too perfect that a musical based on the guy who wrote this should be announced this week.)
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