Entertainment Stage Princess Diana musical headed to Broadway, but royals might not be amused

Princess Diana musical headed to Broadway, but royals might not be amused

Princess Diana
Princess Diana wears a Moschino suit to Princess Eugenie's 1990 christening at Sandringham. Photo: Getty
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Traditional royals fans might not be queuing for tickets when a Princess Diana musical hits Broadway next March.

As W put it, “Don’t expect for Diana to do for the late princess what Evita did for Eva Peron.”

That shouldn’t be a deal breaker. While the tone of the play is “snarky” rather than reverent, Diana’s legend doesn’t need catchy show tunes and a sympathetic storyline to win hearts.

So the cast will be preaching to the choir.

But perhaps not the Windsors, despite their recent moves into modernism (Meghan’s black nail polish, kissing in public, George allowed to wear normal person shorts.)

Reviews from Diana’s sold-out debut at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse in March – it was extended twice – suggested it’s more your glossy spoof than serious Broadway theatre.

“If you’re feeling protective of the British royal family, prepare to clutch your pearls,” wrote the San Diego Union-Tribune, which noted the play is a heaving mass of “gyrating beefcake”.

“Under the guise of plumbing the emotional depths of a complex marriage, the show instead finds entertainment by turning Diana into Dynasty,” said Broadway World.

The approach did not amuse several royals commentators who saw the play, which follows Diana’s combustible relationship with Prince Charles after their 1981 wedding, the couple’s his and hers dalliances and her huge global fame before her 1997 death.

At issue: A salty Queen Elizabeth who almost drops the F word several times (as one critic said, and “we’re not talking Falklands”) and songs called F–k You Dress and Here Comes James Hewitt.

The latter refers to Diana’s former lover, who wears a “luminous orange wig” and goes full Magic Mike while “caressing” the princess in bed.

“Babies have been conceived in less time than it takes a shirtless Gareth Keegan playing Diana’s paramour James Hewitt to strut his six-pack abdominal stuff,” according to The Times.

In one scene Diana climbs into a boxing ring with nemesis Camilla Parker Bowles (her name is rhymed with ‘Godzilla’ in one song).

The fighting and semi-nudity were too much for Majesty magazine editor-in-chief Ingrid Seward: “It is in such bad taste that it’s best ignored.”

Asked if the royal family would be keen to see Diana, Ms Seward said, “Oh goodness, no. None of them would have any interest in it.”

Jeanna de Waal Roe Hartrampf
Jeanna de Waal and Roe Hartrampf recreate Charles and Diana’s 1981 engagement photo session. Photo: Facebook

The Sunday Telegraph said Diana is “just so silly and tongue-in-cheek that it can’t be taken seriously” and that it was “hard to say” how it would go down in the UK.

“Some royal fans will certainly find the idea unappealing. But perhaps in honour of our new American princess we should take a punt on it.”

The curtain will officially rise on Diana at Broadway’s Longacre Theatre on March 31, 2020, with preview performances due to open three weeks earlier.

“Behind the fairytale, there was a troubled marriage and a young woman struggling to find her voice,” the synopsis from the La Jolla Playhouse read.

“Diana surprises everyone – including herself – as she grows into a global phenomenon and manages to change the world.”

The original cast will reprise their roles on Broadway, Diana will be played by Jeanna de Waal, with Roe Hartrampf as Prince Charles, Erin Davie as Camilla Parker Bowles and Judy Kaye as the Queen.

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Leading lady de Waal (Kinky Boots) said in a video interview last year it’s “obviously a huge privilege” to bring Diana back to life onstage.

“I hope people who didn’t know about her and weren’t aware of her journey leave the theatre with an idea of what she did for the world.”

The creative team behind Diana includes David Bryan, Bon Jovi’s keyboard player, and Joe DiPietro, who previously collaborated on the Tony-winning hit Memphis and a musical adaptation of The Toxic Avenger.

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