A musical about the life of Princess Diana is Broadway-bound.
Directed by Christopher Ashley, “Diana” is scheduled to open at New York’s Longacre Theatre next March. It follows the life of the “People’s Princess” (played by Jeanna de Waal) during her turbulent 15-year marriage to Prince Charles (Roe Hartrampf), culminating in her 1997 death at the age of 36.
“Thrust into a spotlight brighter than any the world had ever known, Diana soon finds herself at odds with her husband, an unrelenting news media, and the monarchy itself,” a synopsis of the show sent to HuffPost and other media outlets reads. “Leading fiercely with her heart, Princess Diana stands up for her family, her country and herself, while managing to capture the hearts of the world.”
“She defied expectations, she rocked the royals and she created a legacy that will endure forever,” the press note concludes.
From the sounds of it, “Diana” ― which debuted this spring at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego ― takes a few cues from “Evita,” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1978 musical about Argentina’s legendary first lady, Eva Perón.
It also boasts an impressive pedigree. David Bryan, who co-wrote the score, is the longtime keyboardist for Bon Jovi. He and Joe DiPietro are also the creators of the 2009 hit, “Memphis,” which won four Tony Awards.
In 2017, Ashley received a Tony Award for directing “Come From Away,” which continues to play to sold-out crowds on Broadway.
The San Diego production, however, received mixed reviews.
“The show doesn’t work but that hardly matters these days for a musical that can draw in the tourist masses,” Los Angeles Times critic Charles McNulty wrote, adding that the score sounded “dated.”
The Hollywood Reporter’s review was more generous, saying that the musical “seems to have many of the pieces needed for a hit” despite “flaws.”
For London-born de Waal, whose Broadway credits include “Kinky Boots” and “American Idiot,” bringing Diana to life is a dream come true.
“I hope people who come to see ‘Diana’ that didn’t know about her and weren’t aware of her journey leave the theater with an idea of what she did for the world and the changes she made,” she said in a March interview. “She’s still such a huge part of our zeitgeist … I think we want to celebrate her.”
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