Broadway’s Diana, the Musical started streaming on Netflix a month and some ahead of its scheduled November opening at the Longacre Theater, which made people scratch their heads wondering why or who came up with this – shall we say – marketing strategy (?). The level of confidence the producers put into this approach can be commended given that the musical received mixed reviews when it initially played at the LaJolla Playhouse, opening it up to more critics who added to panning of the show via the filmed version.
While I’m very supportive of shows, especially musicals, I hate to say it but I agree with the criticisms and I don’t know if it can hold up when it eventually opens (I mean, why shell out $50-$100 in tickets for a show that is not only available on a streaming platform, but is also receiving unfavourable reviews?). Sure, there will be the stans who may be there for the first couple of weeks but I don’t think that will be enough to sustain its run. Who knows, though, maybe we’ll be surprised. And I hope they do.
The main thing that (dare I say) annoyed me was the lyrics. It seemed it was trying too hard to come up with words that will not only rhyme but consistently do it one verse after another (hey what rhymes with Camilla? Oh, how about Manila? And Godzilla! Yes, Godzilla!), accompanied by music that sounds monotonous, no songs particularly stood out for me, as potentially a carrier song to the likes of Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina, Defying Gravity, or even Waving Through A Window, something that will remind people of the show when hummed on the streets.
Now the good things.
The costume were great! The iconic dresses were replicated to its fine detail (at least from where I sit), and it was a fun romp down memory lane seeing these on stage. My only complaint in this area is Diana’s wig. I don’t know what it is about it but something is not sitting right with me.
Choreography made up for what the music and lyrics lacked. While veering more into a more modern style dance, the staging and blocking, as well as the scene transitions were more than enjoyable and well-done, that is, if you tune out the music (sorry Mr. Bryan).
Cast was good. I like them. The singing was great despite the material, the ensemble gave a wonderful performance. That’s all.
Diana, the Musical is definitely not for everyone. It will have its fan base and it will have its critics, just like any other shows. Its personally not my cup of tea but am glad I, at least, gave it a chance.
Broadway Opening Cast: Jeanna de Waal, Roe Hartrampf, Judy Kaye, Erin Davie, Zach Adkins, Ashley Andrews, Austen Danielle Bohmer, Bruce Dow, Holly Ann Butler, Richard Gatta, Lauren E.J. Hamilton, Shaye B. Hopkins, Andre Jordan, Gareth Keegan, Nathan Lucrezio, Tomas Matos, Chris Medlin, Laura Stracko, Bethany Ann Tesarck
Director: Christopher Ashley
Book & lyrics: Joe DiPietro
Music & lyrics: David Bryan
Costume Designer: William Ivey Long
Music direction & arrangements: Ian Eisendrath
Choreographer: Kelly Devine