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Review of SWEET CAROLINE at the Adelphi Theatre

Exactly thirty years ago, Gary Ryan’s life changed forever when he won Second Prize in ITV’s 1993 series of Stars in Their Eyes as singer/songwriter Neil Diamond. Since then he has toured not only the UK but also much of the world in his Tribute Show which has at last reached London’s West End – and many Diamond aficionados would say “not before time”! Ryan certainly works hard: song follows song with barely a gap for two hours or more. There is a structure to the show, the first half showcasing Diamond as a songwriter for others, such as The Monkees’ “ I’m a Believer” and the second being a stream of his “greatest hits”, the audience being encouraged to join in at every opportunity, which, at The Adelphi, they certainly did!

Gary Ryan as Neil Diamond.
Gary Ryan as Neil Diamond.

Gary Ryan does bear more than a passing facial resemblance to his idol and he uses his voice as Diamond appears to have done in the ten years or so before he retired, so, not surprisingly, we don’t hear Neil when his voice was young and fresh.

The songs we are treated to include a superb reggae version of RED RED WINE, through the country of CRACKLIN’ ROSIE and the Hollywood magic of THE JAZZ SINGER but I particularly enjoyed the possibly less well-known ones such as SEPTEMBER MORN, which was perhaps even better than the original, and SOLITARY MAN. Not surprisingly, the highlight of Ryan’s Tribute was the title of the evening: SWEET CAROLINE.

His backing group consists of six hugely talented musicians, none of whom are credited, but all of whom deserve to be! They include a superb, really tight, kit player, multi-talented lead guitarist and excellent reed instrumentalist who plays saxophone, clarinet and flute as well as doubling as vocal backing. In fact, the imaginative orchestrations, always in the original style, greatly aided the creation of the right mood for each song, as did the lighting design, again uncredited.

It was a shame that the voiceover at the start of the show, introducing the audience to both Neil Diamond and Gary Ryan, was almost wholly drowned out by the opening music, and in fact, was irritating as it was impossible to concentrate on either for a few minutes, and the sound balance itself, no matter the mood of the song, always seemed to be at the same volume level: LOUD!

Gary Ryan’s show was clearly enjoyed by all, especially those of a “certain age” present at The Adelphi, who knew every song and were more than prepared to take part as well!!

SWEET CAROLINE: The Ultimate Tribute to Neil Diamond was only in the West End for one night, but continues to tour during 2023. Recommended!

4 stars

Review by John Groves

In 1993, Gary Ryan’s life changed forever when he appeared on ITV’s Stars in Their Eyes as music superstar Neil Diamond.

He won his heat and went on to appear in the first-ever “live” grand final of the series, with an audience of 13 million watching at home, where he was placed second after the phone lines were overwhelmed due to unprecedented response from the public.

Gary has since toured to world as Neil Diamond and will now make his West End debut in ‘SWEET CAROLINE The Ultimate Tribute to Neil Diamond’ at the Adelphi Theatre on Tuesday 6 June.

The show will take you on a musical journey celebrating 50 years of some of the greatest songs ever written.

From Brooklyn to Hollywood, Neil Diamond has left a legacy of great songs which have been covered by every great vocalist.

Spanning all genres from the reggae of ‘Red Red Wine’, through the country of ‘Cracklin’ Rosie’, and the Hollywood music of ‘The Jazz Singer’.

LISTINGS INFO
WEST END PREMIERE
SWEET CAROLINE
The Ultimate Tribute to Neil Diamond

Tuesday 6 June at 7.30pm

ADELPHI THEATRE
Strand,
London, WC2R 0NS

https://lwtheatres.co.uk/

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Author

  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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