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Arts Culture Everything We Know So Far About "Diana: A True Musical Story"

Everything We Know So Far About "Diana: A True Musical Story"

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 13:  Theatre marquee for "Diana - A True Musical Story", a musical about Princess Diana, at the Longacre Theatre on January 13, 2020 in New York City.  (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 13: Theatre marquee for "Diana - A True Musical Story", a musical about Princess Diana, at the Longacre Theatre on January 13, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images)
By Franz Sorilla IV
By Franz Sorilla IV
August 21, 2020
Netflix announced their acquisition of a new musical on Broadway, which failed to premiere last March due to the pandemic crisis. "Diana: A True Musical Story" is now eyeing virtual release before it opens live on May 2021

No exact date has been released for the Netflix premiere of Joe DiPietro and David Bryan's new Broadway musical Diana: A True Musical Story but it is now slated to open its house on 25 May 2021. The musical will be filmed at the Longacre Theatre in New York without an audience and will be shown on Netflix before the production opens next year. Together with the Actors' Equity Association, the producers will be following health safety protocols to ensure the welfare of the cast and crew. Currently, all Broadway shows in New York City have been closed until 03 January 2021.

"We speak for the entire company when we say that we couldn’t be more excited to finally be able to share our show with theatre lovers everywhere,” the producers said in a joint statement. "Though there is no substitute for the live theatre, we are honoured to be a part of the quality entertainment that Netflix provides its subscribers worldwide."

Promotional poster of "Diana: A True Musical Story" / Courtesy of DKC/O&M
Promotional poster of "Diana: A True Musical Story" / Courtesy of DKC/O&M

The writers of the music and book, Joe DiPietro and David Bryan, are best known for their Tony Award-winning musical Memphis and the 2008 rock musical The Toxic Avenger. Previews began last 19 February 2019 at the La Jolla Playhouse in California and continued to be workshopped by its directing team helmed by Tony-winning director Christopher Ashley (Come From Away), with Kelly Devine (Rock of AgesCome From Away) as choreographer.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 30: (L-R) Roe Hartrampf, Judy Kaye, Jeanna de Waal and Erin Davie pose at a Meet & Greet for the new cast and creative team of the new musical "Diana" on Broadway at The Lotte New York Palace on January 30, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 30: (L-R) Roe Hartrampf, Judy Kaye, Jeanna de Waal and Erin Davie pose at a Meet & Greet for the new cast and creative team of the new musical "Diana" on Broadway at The Lotte New York Palace on January 30, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/WireImage)
 

With Jeanna de Waal in the titular role of Lady Diana Spencer, Diana follows the life and legacy of the "common-born princess thrust onto the world stage" with her marriage to the Prince of Wales. As stated in its press release, "This is the story of the most famous woman of the modern age as she struggles to endure a spotlight brighter than the world had ever known. She defied expectations, she rocked the royals, and she captured her nation's heart by leading with her own."

Joining de Waal are Roe Hartrampf as His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Erin Davie as Camilla Parker Bowles, and two-time Tony Award-winner Judy Kaye as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Besides covering the early introduction of Princess Diana to the British royal scene alongside her struggles being in the spotlight of tabloid media, her crumbling marriage as she discovers Prince Charles' affair with his long-time lover Camilla Parker Bowles, and her scandalous divorce, the new musical also sheds light to the private life of the "People's Princess". De Waal projects the nuances and awkwardness of Diana and, through the songs written by DiPietro and Bryan, shares her innermost thoughts on love, identity, and duty to the people.

 

"When I first started preparing for the role, I went down a Youtube wormhole and I watched pretty much everything from when she was confident in the spotlight to those stolen moments and just sort of tried to get a feel of her. Of how she moved and how she spoke and her mannerisms," De Waal says in a teaser video for the musical.

We remember Diana being on the front page of the British tabloid papers as she was furiously followed by the paparazzi. Her enigmatic presence captivated millions of people worldwide, making her the most vocal person from the British royal family—a characteristic frowned upon by The Queen and the other members of the family. Diana then used this influence to put on the forefront of her own image and advance meaningful causes like AIDS awareness, world hunger, and many more.

VANCOUVER, CANADA - MAY 03:  Princess Diana in Vancouver on May 3, 1986.  (Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, CANADA - MAY 03: Princess Diana in Vancouver on May 3, 1986. (Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)

"And then I started to deep dive into the Andrew Morton book, Diana: Her True Story—In Her Own Words. We have this massive piece of literature, with her actual own words, what she wanted to share with the world," De Waal continues.

Born on 01 July 1961, Diana Frances Spencer was the first wife of Prince Charles, heir apparent to the British throne, and mother of Prince William and Prince Harry. Being born into the British nobility from the illustrious Spencer family, she grew up close to the royal family on their Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England.

In 1978, she moved to London and took on several low-paying jobs, shying away from the limelight of her family. Her engagement to Prince Charles in 1981 stunned the world and launched Diana to prominence. But despite the fairytale-like life, she suffered tremendously from media attention, royal critics, and to top it off, her and Charles' incompatibility and extramarital affairs. The royal couple separated in 1992, which was then followed by the divorce of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.

The details of Diana and Charles' marital difficulties were highly publicised, adding the prince's longtime friend and former girlfriend to the equation. Though Diana was then stripped off her title, she remained one of the most influential personalities in the world and earned the title of the "People's Princess". Her unconventional approach to philanthropic works and friendship with notable celebrities, religious, and political figures chained her into the eyes of the paparazzi.

"So it [the book] reveals what all those massive events must've felt like and what encouraged her or pushed her to do the next thing," she says.

"I think for me, my first memory [of Princess Diana], tragically, was when she passed away," Hartrampf, who will be playing the Prince of Wales, says. "I remember being sad but not really understanding the weight of what that meant." In an attempt to escape the paparazzi chasing her and companion Dodi Fayed, Diana died in a tragic car accident in a Paris tunnel in 1997.

Broadway critics who have seen the previews at the La Jolla Playhouse gave mixed reviews to the early version of the musical, saying that it provided ambiguity as to whom the audiences should be sympathetic for. The portrayal of the paparazzi's unjust treatment to Diana, the weight of the Crown on the British royal family especially Queen Elizabeth II, and the clandestine love affair of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, all played their part in the tragedy Diana had fallen upon.

Diana: A True Musical Story would be the first-ever Broadway production filmed on stage to premiere on Netflix before its official stage opening. Chances are it will also be well received worldwide like when Lin-Manuel Miranda's critically acclaimed musical Hamilton made it to Disney+.

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Arts & Culture Access Pass Stage Plays and Musicals British Royals

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