Theatergoers attending the opening night of the Broadway musical A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical at the Broadhurst Theatre on Dec. 4 got a big surprise when Neil Diamond took the mic to perform his 1969 hit “Sweet Caroline.”
Prior to his performance, Diamond walked the red carpet with his wife Katie McNeil, and received a standing ovation when he entered the theater. Diamond then got on the mic to perform “Sweet Caroline” from his box seat to an audience that included producer Clive Davis, and actors Bernadette Peters, Jane Krakowski, and Audra McDonald.
The show, which goes through Diamond’s life and hits, including “Sweet Caroline,” “America,” and “Cracklin’ Rosie,” was named after his tenth album Beautiful Noise, released in 1976.
His Broadway appearance is the first time the 81-year-old has performed in his hometown of New York City since 2017. In 2018, Diamond was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and revealed that he would be retiring from touring. He last performed “Sweet Caroline” at a Boston Red Sox game in June 2022.
Parkinson’s disease, which is a neurological disorder with symptoms including difficulty balancing, walking, and coordinating movement, stiffness, and tremors, has “made it difficult to travel and perform on a large scale,” according to Diamond, who added that he would like to remain an “active musician” and continue writing and recording music.
“I plan to remain active in writing, recording, and other projects for a long time to come,” said Diamond in a statement when announcing his retirement from touring, and the cancellation of his 2018 dates in Australia and New Zealand.
He added, “My thanks goes out to my loyal and devoted audiences around the world. You will always have my appreciation for your support and encouragement. This ride has been ‘so good, so good, so good’ thanks to you.”
The singer recently curated his 2022 holiday album, A Neil Diamond Christmas, a collection of festive songs previously released on his four Christmas albums, including The Christmas Album (1992), The Christmas Album Volume II from 1994, A Cherry Cherry Christmas (2009), and Acoustic Christmas, released in 2016.
A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical is currently playing an open-ended run at the Broadhurst Theatre.
Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Keep Memory Alive