The musical 'Diana', which is musical retelling of the Princess Diana story, opens on Broadway just as the real-life Royals deal with new family troubles
From the endless recent media accounts about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and their choice to leave the mainstream royal family, to the enduring fascination over Queen Elizabeth, both in real life and on Netflix, both American and international audiences are still pretty keen about the British Royals, more so now than ever before. However, over the years, no royal figure has ever captured the attention and the hearts of the public more than the late Princess Diana. Now her story is on Broadway in the new musical Diana, from the Tony winning creative team behind Memphis.
The curtain rises in 1981 as the twenty year old Lady Diana Spencer marries Prince Charles of Wales, who is now thirteen years her senior, and the whole world is watching and holding its breath to see if the fairytale wedding will survive the rigors of the media spotlight . The new musical is set to a British rock beat and tells the story of a woman who faces a distant husband, an unflinching monarchy, and constant media scrutiny, and handles them all with unabashed honesty. She galvanizes the people of England and threatens the royal family’s hold over the nation. With a notable cast of characters like Camilla Parker-Bowles, Prince Philip, and the Queen herself, the show makes a valiant attempt to demonstrate the power that the royal household exerted over the newly-minted couple, despite the fact the Prince Charles was clearly still very much in love with Parker-Bowles, both before and after the greatest wedding of the Century. It just seems like Princess Diana was the only one who did not know about it.
Diana is the new biographical musical from Broadway writing duo Joe DiPietro and founding member of Bon Jovi, David Bryan, that recounts the tragic life of the late Princess of Wales. The writing pair are best known for their previous work on Tony Award-winning musical Memphis and have also ventured into Off-Broadway productions with their work on The Toxic Avenger. Diana made its world premiere in early 2019 in La Jolla Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Theatre in La Jolla, California. The show was met with a warm critical response and ultimately cemented its trajectory to the Broadway stage. The main cast of the La Jolla performances all transferred to Broadway with the show, as the producers did not want to break up the winning formula. The cast includes the likes of Kinky Boots star Jeanna de Waal in the role of Diana, Tony Award winning Broadway veteran Judy Kaye as Queen Elizabeth and Erin Davie (Sunday in the Park with George) as Camilla Parker-Bowles. The eponymous Prince Charles is played by Roe Hartrampf, who is set to make his Broadway debut. The production also boasts an impressive creative team full of multi-Tony Award winners such as scenic designer David Zinn, costume designer William Ivey Long, and lighting designer Natasha Katz.
The show was very lucky to be launching on Broadway at a time when the British Royal family is in such a state of flux and in many ways the show seems somewhat tame when compared to the recent actions of the “Sussex Royals” who intend to quit the Royal family for good. With Meghan Markle reportedly leveraging Sony Pictures for a paid part in movies and Prince Harry taking some of the royal fortune to new waters on Vancouver Island in Canada, this part of the royal family possesses the anti-establishment rhetoric that Diana once had. This leaves the question of: What Diana would think about all this if she were alive now? Most people agree that she would probably approve, given her penchant for bucking the royal family protocol, which she never fully embraced. The only thing that the Broadway show fails to address is how strikingly similar Prince Harry appears when compared to Diana’s confidante and the family's former riding instructor, James Hewitt. This comes as Diana commented that the Prince and her were closest of all during her pregnancy with Harry, but that story may be reserved for part 2 of the show Diana 2: Harry, I Am Your Father.
See Diana’s story and celebrate her legacy at Diana, the musical now on Broadway.