Writer and performer Noah Diamond made his New York debut on a double-decker tour bus. 400 YEARS IN MANHATTAN is a multimedia stage show based on the New York City tour he conducted for seven years. The show, which Mr. Diamond describes as “a comedic journey through the city’s history,” premiered in 2007 at downtown Manhattan’s HERE Arts Center.
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Martin Denton of nytheatre.com wrote that 400 YEARS IN MANHATTAN is "delightful and fascinating...a panoramic journey through the history of Manhattan...unfailingly intelligent, often quite funny, and sometimes authentically profound and wise. One of the best times I've had in the theatre in a long time."
“It was like being in a show that ran for seven years,” Diamond recalls of his tour guide days. Eventually, he stopped touring in order to devote more time to the theatre. With his collaborator Amanda Sisk – the director of 400 YEARS IN MANHATTAN – he wrote and appeared in the recent political satires "Moral Value Meal" and "Burning Bush: A Faith-Based Musical." Together, Diamond and Sisk lead the theatre company Nero Fiddled, and write the blog of the same name (nerofiddled.net).
400 YEARS IN MANHATTAN, according to Diamond, is “really the end of a long run.” Having concluded his tour guide career, he says, he wanted to formally retire the material, to “tell the amazing story of New York City one last time – in a nice comfortable theatre.” Adapting his tour to the stage had long been on Diamond’s to-do list, but he could never compensate for the absence of the tour’s most important element – the city itself. Then, looking at images of Lower Manhattan for another project, he happened upon several pictures, drawn or photographed from the same angle over four centuries. “I put them into a slideshow,” he recalls, “and had them fade into one another, so I could watch the city develop over history.” The multimedia presentation, he realized, “could show you the one thing the tour never could: the city's literal past.”
In his web article, Diamond explains that 400 YEARS IN MANHATTAN was written “from the perspective of a tour guide unconstrained by time or place. We can visit places in New York which no longer exist, and we can visit them in chronological order; we can compare the past and the present side by side. Most of the stories I tell in the show come directly from my tours, but the view is different. Instead of starting on Eighth Avenue, we start in 1609.”
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