Princess Diana’s life is set to be retold, yet again, in an American musical which has just finished premiering.
Nearly 22 years after her death, Princess Diana continues to be a public figure shrouded by intense fascination. Her story has been unpicked, opened out and examined again and again, retold through the medium of film, TV, books, exhibitions – almost every which way you could think of.
There’s almost only one art form that has so far been untapped to narrate the life of the world’s most famous princess - a musical. But we can now add that to the list as an American production called Diana finishes its premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in California, with plans to move to Broadway after further workshopping.
Diana plots the major events of the princess’s life (with a heavy dose of artistic license), making a point of highlighting her apparent teenage crush on Prince Charles, ambition to be a princess and playing out her courtship with the prince.
As well as exploring her relationship with Charles and the rest of the royals (the musical features his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles and some of the fallout from that), it focuses on a lot of her incredible achievements, such as being one of the only famous people to address the AIDS crisis publicly. It also shows the deep connections she made with those suffering.
Although the production is American, not all of the actors are, with English actor Jeanna de Waal playing the titular role (also seen on Broadway in American Idiot and Kinky Boots). Playing Charles is Roe Hartrampf, while Erin Davie plays Parker Bowles and Tony Award winner Judy Kaye plays the Queen. In the director’s seat is Come From Away Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley, with a score from Bon Jovi’s David Bryan. So impressive names all round, then.
Initial reviews note the sinister undertone of a musical with such a tragic subject matter and ending, referencing the need for further work to be done to iron out some of the more off-key moments, but they say it has potential. For example, The Hollywood Reporter writes: “Despite its flaws — and there are many that need to be worked out before this show goes any further — there is an earnestness about Diana.”
Do we really need another dramatisation of Diana’s life? Probably not. But as a theatre production first, we’re certainly interested in seeing how the team behind Diana rework her story for the stage.
Currently no dates or tickets have been released, but watch this space.
Images: Getty / Instagram