A stage recording of the pre-Broadway musical about the life of Princess Diana has come to Netflix and I gave it a watch and have some thoughts to share.
This is not a spoiler free review and since it is a biographical show of a well-known figure, I’m not going to hide or indicate where spoilers take place.
As I said, this musical is about the life of Lady Diana Spencer and how she became the Princess of Wales as well as the unfortunate aftermath leading to her death. From the mental health struggles following the birth of her children to the infedilty that ultimately ruined her marriage, we go through all of it.
The beginning of the show felt rushed as it jumped from song to song with little to no dialogue to hurry into the marriage portion of her life, which admittedly is probably the more interesting part. But it was so jumpy that it felt like the cut portions out since there was no smooth transitions.
Once William and Harry are born, the plot smooths out and nothing feels too jarring of a jump. But it does still seem like meere vignettes of her life rather than a streamlined lifestory. Also they made almost every scene a song which isn’t necessary and is likely a significant reason for why it doesn’t feel like a smooth progression. There are a few songs that are completely unneccessary and don’t really add anything. And overall, the lyrics are not the best.
Acting wise, they all do a good job. I think the stand out performance is actually the ensemble. The leads do well, but their characterizations are all a little flat which is a writing flaw. The actors can only do so much when provided not-great material.
I do want to praise the costumes, which did a great job mimicking iconic looks the Princess wore, and the set design. In particular the ending and how the handled the car accident and her passing. It’s not over dramatized and kept respectful, and is a beautiful way to end the show.
Other reviews of the film have, in my opinion, been exceedingly harsh. Was this the best musical I’ve watched, either in person or on stage recording? No. But was it the worst? Also no. It was probably best described as mediocre, primarily so because of the writing. But the claims of this film “ruining Broadwy” are just ludicrous. At worst, it ruins the shows chance at Broadway success before it even opens which is rather unfortunate. But it doesn’t mean the entirety of musical theater will face its demise.
Overall, this isn’t the worst musical I’ve watched and I don’t regret watching it. However, I don’t have a desire to watch it again, either on stage or in film. Unfortunately the issues stem from the writing, both book and lyrics, and no amount of stellar acting, costumes, or sets can redeem that.
Have you watched Diana: The Musical? Share your own thoughts with a comment below.