‘Diana: the Musical’ review: Netflix brings stage production to TV, but ‘the Crown’ hangs over its head

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Joe DiPietro (who wrote the book / lyrics) and David Bryan (music / lyrics) previously collaborated on Tony-winning “Memphis,” and they once again teamed up with “Come From Away” director Christopher Ashley. Still, the process of screening the wide-eyed 19-year-old Diana Spencer’s journey to her divorce from Prince Charles seems a bit too past, considering that despite the vigorous use of the supermarkets to play a wide variety of roles.

“Flash bulbs fill the air,” sings Diana (Jeanna de Waal, whose voice shines everywhere) on her first visit to the palace, before being recalled later by the voracious press – in footage reminiscent of “Evita “- that if she signs up for the terrible job of getting married into the royal family,” Honey, we’re part of the deal. “

Urged on by Queen Elizabeth II (Judy Kaye) that it’s time to get married, Charles (Roe Hartrampf) awkwardly professes some kind of love for Diana, followed by marriage and parenthood. Still, he remains aloof, continuing his infatuation with Camilla Parker Bowles (Erin Davie), who thanks to TV close-ups shows silent unease as the couple exchange wedding vows.

If everything sounds familiar, it obviously should be, increasing the pressure on the music and the directing to bring something shiny and distinctive to this model. Despite flashes of wit and abundant talent, a first viewing doesn’t find much that rises to this level, as Diana sings that she’s “underrated”, pair of tense rhymes “Camilla” and “Godzilla” and Smarter articulate “A Life of Despair in Windsor Society.

As with “Come From Away,” Ashley does a remarkable job of making the cast feel like a multitude, and the costumes (including a particularly impressive quick-change moment) are appropriately dazzling, reflecting the take on Diana’s awareness that glamor and style were often the most effective weapons she possessed at the court of public opinion.

Logistically, it should be noted that the project is coming to Netflix after a delay induced by Covid. The musical was filmed last September at the Longacre Theater without the assistance of a live audience, making the energy of the cast admirable in these circumstances, with de Waal capturing Diana’s elegance as well as her pain and his grief.
Royal Family finalists will likely see this as a much needed addition to their collections, with “The Crown” just cleaning up at the Emmys and “Spencer,” starring Kristen Stewart as the princess, due out in November.

Yet the abundance of this watchlist represents a double-edged sword. “Diana: The Musical” might make for a good night out at the theater, but seen on Netflix, what’s billed as a “special presentation” becomes another brilliant bauble that ultimately doesn’t feel particularly special.

“Diana: The Musical” premieres October 1 on Netflix.

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