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Saturday Movie Review: Diana The Musical

Diana The Musical was originally scheduled to open in March 2020 but, was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the hiatus, it was arranged that Broadway production would be recorded and put on Netflix. The production was recorded in the summer of 2020 and was released on Netflix on October 1st, 2020. The musical is based on the life of Diana, Princess of Whales.

The musical begins with Diana Spencer attending a party thrown by Prince Charles. It is at this party that she first encounters Camilla Parker Bowles and the plan is started for Diana’s courtship with Prince Charles. The courtship leads to a proposal and marriage and eventually the birth of their two sons. Throughout all of this, Diana is conflicted about her role within the royal society and her relationship with Prince Charles. The musical follows her as she strives to make a difference in society and keep her marriage in tact for the sake of her sons.

Diana the Musical did not have the best reviews when it was released on Netflix. Viewers thought that it was almost a satire of Princess Diana’s life and legacy. Even with these negative reviews, I still wanted to give it a chance. The musical opens with the glitz and glamour of a royal party. Jeanna de Waal was the star of the show right from the beginning as she took the stage as Diana. Right way I also noticed the beautiful costumes and scenery design. Everything felt true to the time period and the vibe which the British royalty was known for.

I was aware of the writing team David Bryan and Joe DiPietro as they were also the team that wrote the Tony award winning musical Memphis. Based on this, I was able to recognize familiar musical passages that were in both shows. There was originality but, certain musical phrases were definitely used multiple times. The music of Diana the Musical was all over the place and even had a couple of spots where it almost felt like it was either trying to break the fourth wall between the performers and the audience or it really was meant to be satire. One example of this is:

“Another night with Charles’ friends
I pray to God that it soon ends!
Nights like this, I envy the poor.
Their parties can’t possibly be such a fucking bore.

We stand and chat, try to look alive.
While we wait for the prince to arrive.
His mistress smiles and does her bit.
I wonder how she puts up with his shit!”

Overall, I will admit that I enjoyed Diana the Musical. It’s a bit cheesy and full of camp but, there are also some very tender moments. I have always found Diana to be an interesting woman and remember the sadness that came from her accident in Paris. She was full of a sense of grace and humanity that you can still see in her sons. The Netflix film is not going to be for everyone, just like the Broadway musical was not for everyone but, if you’re willing to give it a chance and not take it too seriously, you may just enjoy the ride!

Rating: 3 Stars

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