Diana: A True Musical Story was just a week and a half into Broadway previews and had been originally slated for an official opening on 31 March. However, the coronavirus pandemic forced New York City theaters to halt productions until the new year. But now, the show based on the royal’s life and ill-fated romance has plans to head to the small screen.
The new Broadway opening date and other details
Directed by Christopher Ashley, Diana will premiere on Netflix in 2021 ahead of its new Broadway opening date, May 25. The musical will be filmed without an audience at the Longacre Theater in New York with the original cast. Including, Wicked and American Idiot star, Jeanna de Waal as Diana.
“We couldn’t be more excited to finally be able share our show with theater lovers”
The announcement was made today by producers, Grove Entertainment (Beth Williams), Frank Marshall and The Araca Group. “We speak for the entire company when we say that we couldn’t be more excited to finally be able share our show with theater lovers everywhere.” the producers said in a joint statement. “Though there is no substitute for the live theater, we are honored to be a part of the quality entertainment that Netflix provides its subscribers worldwide.”
“We can announce that we have approved a safety plan for Diana“
Producers have been working with Actor’s Equity Association on all health and safety protocols. Equity Executive Director, Mary McColl said in a statement. “Today, we can announce that we have approved a safety plan for Diana. Now comes the hard part. Taking a safety plan from the page and putting it into practice. The work to provide the safest workplace possible in this environment will require everyone to work together. From the employer to every employee.”
The provisions of the safety plan include initial and recurring testing for Equity members. An isolation plan for the actors and stage managers. And HVAC changes to ensure ventilation in the back of the house, among other requirements.
Diana will now become the first ever Broadway production to premiere on the small screen before its official stage debut. A date for its Netflix debut has yet to be confirmed. Diana is following the footsteps of Hamilton, which provided theater fans a front row seat to the original Broadway cast. Including star and writer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, in action straight from their living rooms when it aired on Disney+ last month. According to reports, the musical was the most-watched piece of content on any streaming platform during July. With 37% of their sample size watching.
The staging for Netflix will feature the original Broadway cast. Including de Waal as Diana, Roe Hartrampf as Prince Charles, Erin Davie as Camilla Parker Bowles. And two-time Tony Award winner, Judy Kaye as Queen Elizabeth.
The musical features a book by Joe DiPietro and music and lyrics by David Bryan, the team behind Broadway’s Memphis. The production marks director Ashley’s return to Broadway following his Tony-winning direction of 2017’s hit, Come From Away. Kelly Devine is the choreographer for Diana, with music supervision and arrangements by Come From Away‘s Ian Eisendrath.
Following Hamilton’s success, Disney+ is looking to bring the musical, Once on This Island to their platform as well.
“People, within 2 seconds of seeing you, are going to decide. They either buy it or they don’t,”
Jeanna de Waal, who stars as Princess Diana, previously spoke in an interview about the challenges of playing someone instantly recognized around the world. “People, within like 2 seconds of seeing you, are going to decide. They either buy it or they don’t,” said de Waal. “If they don’t buy it, it’s going to be hard for them to enjoy the story and get lost in it.”
De Waal, who previously starred in Kinky Boots and American Idiot was just a young child when Princess Diana died in 1997. So the task of bringing the beloved international icon to the Broadway stage meant hours of “devouring” YouTube videos. Everything from the princess in interviews to an eight-minute clip of Diana in mom mode with Prince William and Prince Harry.
“She’s not speaking, but you can see the way that she’s caring for Harry and William. And how she relates to them. How she watches so intensely,” the actress explained. “She doesn’t seem distracted by anything. She’s very present in every single moment that she’s involved with.”