From its previews at the La Jolla Playhouse in California in 2019 to now, the road from page to stage for Diana, the Musical has been a rocky one. Sadly, the Netflix pro-shot may well be a fatal blow to the show’s success when it opens this fall.
The show covers the life of Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, from the age of 19 through her untimely death at 36, including her infamous marriage and divorce to Prince Charles, which sent shockwaves throughout the royal family and hypnotized the world.
Filmed on the Broadway stage during COVID, the show, which lacks an audience, is full of awkward song transitions and cringe-worthy moments. Each song of Joe DiPietro and David Bryan’s score is more forgettable than the last, and the lyrics feel more like a Wikipedia article than anything innovative.
In addition, Christopher Ashley’s staging and Kelly Devine’s choreography also feels formulaic and stale. Even William Ivey Long’s recreations of Diana’s most famous ensembles can only elevate the musical so much, though Long was not present during the Netflix filming and has since been disassociated from the production.
Jeanna de Waal as the titular Diana does a fine job and shines freely with her solo numbers. Conversely, Judy Kaye portrays Queen Elizabeth with little charm, and those unfamiliar with her career on Broadway may miss the fact that she is a bonafide Broadway star.
Whether you are a Diana fan or not, this is one musical and Netflix Original nobody should have to suffer through, particularly in light of the fact that there is no shortage of Diana biopics in the works, including the upcoming Spencer, starring Kristen Stewart. In fact, Royal watchers may be better off with a good biography on the people’s princess than this variation.