Jay White is great at his job. The celebrity impersonator sparked rumors on social media this weekend that Neil Diamond was performing in Princeton.
White played at the Class of 1963's 50th reunion concert on Saturday night and was so convincing that a few excited alum began spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter that the 1970's superstar was back.
"We were overrun by young people," laughed Ed Walsh, the 50th Reunion Chair. As more and more Princetonians heard that Diamond was performing, they started leaving other events around campus and descending upon the 50th reunion tent.
"I just fist bumped Neil Diamond!" one Princeton senior posted on Facebook. Another alum tweeted, "Holy tiger! Just sang "Sweet Caroline" with the real Neil Diamond at #PrincetonReunions." By the end of the night, reactions to Neil Diamond's performance was being retweeted by Princeton's official Twitter account, and even The Daily Princetonian and a member of Princeton's Office of Communications tweeted that Diamond was singing at the 50th.
White bore such and uncanny resemblance to the "Sweet Caroline" singer that even after some attendees heard that the performer was an impersonator, they weren't totally convinced. People thought that the organizers didn't want to reveal that the real Diamond was performing because they were worried that the concert would become over crowded.
"He was incredible," said Tom Schreiber, a Princeton student who worked as part of the event crew. "Even some of us who knew it wasn't him started feeling a little skeptical." People started standing on tables to try to get a glimpse of the legendary musician. "I remember someone sprinted up to him after the concert, got his autograph, and then jumped up and down with joy," Schreiber said.
"It was off the charts in terms of energy and excitement," Walsh recalled. And when White left, Walsh added, "he was saying that this was the loudest concert he had ever played.
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" The conspiracy theory was correct – in part. Organizers didn't advertise White's performance for a reason. According to Walsh, White had performed at the Class of '63's 40th reunion, a similar thing happened. White's performance was so popular that the actual '63 alumni weren't able to enjoy their own celebration concert.
This time they were prepared. "We kind of expected that the kids on social media would pick up on it," Walsh said. So the old guard made sure to get up front before the mobs descended.
You may have seen White playing Neil Diamond -- he was cast as the renowned singer in the 2009 Oscar Nominated film Frost/Nixon
The debate was more or less settled Monday when The Daily Princetonian published an article about the whole mix-up. But there's still an aura of mystery about the event. When asked if he had ever seen the real Neil Diamond perform, Walsh replied—deadpan-- "I think I just did."