Review | ‘Diana’ embodies the definition of a ‘why?’ musical

What’s the British phrase for “schlock”?

Technically talking, “Diana,” the super-cheesy Princess Diana cleaning soap opera musical, formally opened on Broadway on Tuesday evening. However for all intents and functions, it actually “opened” itself as much as the world final month, when a pro-shot movie recording of the Broadway manufacturing (which was filmed final 12 months at the theater) was made out there on Netflix.

Opposite to the vicious ridicule it was greeted with on social media, “Diana” shouldn’t be a catastrophe – it’s simply not excellent. If something, it’s an instance of what the late composer Mary Rodgers referred to as a “why musical,” as in a musical that’s utterly pointless. Why did the world want one other retelling of the marriage of Diana and Charles, particularly after it has been so totally explored in the tabloids and onscreen (i.e. season 4 of “The Crown,” “Spencer” with Kristen Stewart)? You don’t even want to observe “Diana” in individual or on Netflix to really feel such as you’ve already seen it.  

“Diana” begins considerably ominously with paparazzi flashing their cameras and gleefully asking “was there ever a greater tabloid tale?” It then promptly introduces Diana (Jeanna de Waal, who tries to convey Diana’s change in conduct and persona over time), units up her preliminary introduction to Prince Charles (Roe Hartrampf, mopey and nasal), adopted by Camilla (Erin Davie, resigned and unexpectedly sympathetic) and Queen Elizabeth (Judy Kaye, staunch with a sense of humor).

It hits all the moments you’d count on to see in a Diana bio musical in a paint-by-numbers vogue: being courted, the royal wedding ceremony, the births of William and Harry, the shock dance efficiency at the Royal Opera Home, confronting Camilla (which evokes the unforgettable lyric “the thrilla in Manila with Camilla!”), her affair with cavalry officer James Hewitt, leaking tales to the press, doing charity work, and the inevitable divorce. Her tragic dying in 1997 is described however not depicted.

The manufacturing (directed by Christopher Ashley, “Come From Away”) is slick, quick, and busy, counting on an over-energetic ensemble (which regularly chimes in with narration and commentary), distasteful choreography (full of pelvic thrusts and grinding), and Diana’s vogue parade of robes (which regularly obtain entrance applause).

The serviceable and forgettable ‘80s pop-style score is by book-writer and lyricist Joe DiPietro and composer David Bryan (best known as the keyboard player of Bon Jovi), who previously wrote the considerably better 2009 musical “Memphis.” “I Will,” Diana’s track throughout the wedding ceremony, is catchy – and likewise occurs to sound a entire lot like the 1987 Starship hit single “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.”

All issues thought-about, it’s spectacular that “Diana” managed to open on Broadway in spite of the shutdown (the present was in the center of previews in March 2020) and the harsh web buzz following its Netflix debut. It’s simply a disgrace that “Diana” was not likely price doing in the first place. 

Longacre Theatre, 220 W. forty eighth St., thedianamusical.com.

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