The filmed performance of “Diana: The Musical” premiered on Netflix on October 1, with its Broadway opening night slated for November 17. A musical about the beloved British royal was anticipated by many in hopes of putting the old Princess of Wales story in a new light. However, it became apparent that the show fell short of expectations and, in fact, struggled to even come close to being praiseworthy. Told through a series of musical numbers, the show features two hours of storytelling that offers little to no new perspectives and an overly garish presentation that seems almost disrespectful to the real Diana.
The musical follows the life of Lady Diana Spencer (Jeanna de Waal) and how she became the “People’s Princess”. Despite having little in common with Charles (Roe Hartrampf), 19-year-old Diana accepts his hand in marriage. The world quickly falls in love with her for her frankness, but her husband seems to fall in love with her at the same rate – Charles and his mistress Camilla (Erin Davie) continue to see each other, and her infidelity causes Diana’s sanity. aggravate. Eventually, Diana becomes embroiled in her own affair with a war hero named James Hewitt (Gareth Keegan) while her marriage to Charles seems increasingly hopeless by the second. She contacts a writer to make her point of view known to the public, and Charles tries to do the same, which ultimately leads to the end of their marriage.
The musical medium should be able to present Diana’s story in a new way through memorable numbers and dance sequences; however, “Diana: The Musical” does none of the above. The music itself is boring and forgettable, unmatched by Broadway predecessors such as “The Music of the Night”, “Memory” and “Defying Gravity” which define the works to which they belong. The songs all get blurred as you watch more of the show, although there was an attempt to cover key songs throughout the performance. Such an attempt to make the pieces more memorable has proven to be largely ineffective. Plus, there were few choreographies that jumped out at me, which made this another poor performance.
The lack of specialty in music is compounded by the lyrics, which are simply forced and out of date. In a musical number featuring the paparazzi, a group of stalkers in trench coats and fedoras brag about their work, singing: “Better than Guinness, better than a handjob / snatch some photos, that’s good stuff. money in the bank. When Diana laments about her marriage, she sings, “Serves me well for marrying a Scorpio” which was just out of place and unnecessary. On top of everything, the song “The Dress” references Diana’s iconic Revenge Dress as a “feckity-feckity feckity-feckity feck you dress”, which is sung over and over again as if it made the song less worthy of being. cringe.
The song “Here Comes James Hewitt” in the second act includes a type of vulgar humor that disrespects Diana’s story. A half-naked James is shown as a group of women dancing around him, admiring his allure. Horrified, onlookers watched James and Diana have the following conversation:
“There’s only one type of lesson I offer: horseback riding lessons,” says James. Diana stops to watch him from head to toe as the ensemble sings her name.
“I guess your husband is giving you riding lessons,” James continues, to which Diana replies, “He tried. He’s not very good.
“Maybe he just doesn’t have the right horse,” James said.
Diana looks at him smiling. “And do you have the right horse?” “
“Your Royal Highness, I think you’d love my horse,” James smirked.
It’s hard to imagine who exactly gave the green light to this set of lines, alongside many other lyrics that appear to be the product of the word insertion in RhymeZone. Maybe a musical wasn’t the right way to tell Diana’s life; at the very least, “Diana: The Musical” didn’t do it very well. A story of depression and oppression portrayed through overly optimistic and cheesy performances missed most of Diana’s story.
However, that doesn’t mean the actors did a horrible job; the vocals of the lead actors are amazing and they delivered the musical numbers to the best of their ability considering what they were given to work with. De Waal and Hartrampf both play their characters well, showing realistic interpretations of Diana’s kindness and warmth as well as Charles’ self-centeredness and decorum. Still, their talented delivery doesn’t make up for the rest of the musical’s flaws.
“Diana: the Musical” had the potential to be something unique; however, he ultimately failed due to poor writing. If you want a more realistic tale of Lady Diana Spencer’s life, maybe look forward to the “Spencer” biopic starring Kristen Stewart which releases on November 5 instead.
Grace Tu is an arts and entertainment intern for the fall 2021 term. She can be contacted at [email protected]