For the reason that authentic Broadway musical “Showboat” opened nearly 100 years in the past, the style has all the time thrived on love tales. Given this well-documented historical past, “Diana: The Musical” appears nearly a perversion of the archetype — an anti-love story starring a lady who needed to consider within the fairy story solely to find it fleeting. As a streaming particular, “Diana: The Musical” nearly works. As a Broadway providing, it’s a stable C, too schlocky to hit the emotional highs, and in determined want of a greater ending.
Even so, Netflix’s latest experiment may very well be Broadway’s ticket to a comeback.
Given this well-documented historical past, “Diana: The Musical” appears nearly a perversion of the archetype.
When the world shut down in mid-March of 2020, the largest musicals had been on the point of formally open simply in time to make the April eligibility date for the 2020 Tony Awards. That included “Diana,” scheduled to open March 31. The Nice White Approach solely simply reopened in September 2021, however whereas theater doorways had been firmly shut, Disney’s recorded efficiency of “Hamilton” grew to become Disney+’s first huge hit that wasn’t tied to an already established franchise. And it uncovered an untapped market begging to be catered to: theater nerds.
Apple TV+ adopted the brand new mannequin of streaming staged performances with established Broadway darling “Come From Away,” which arrived in mid-September. However Netflix’s alternative, “Diana,” takes the complete premise a step additional. Each “Hamilton” and “Come From Away” are a number of years previous and established hits. “Diana,” then again, remains to be awaiting its opening night time. Dwell previews for the present don’t resume till November, giving the present a full month of exclusivity on Netflix.
“Diana” (or “Diana: The Musical” as Netflix titles it) is subsequently not only a filmed reside present for the theater nerd to get pleasure from at house, it’s a really fancy promo for the upcoming Broadway run. The producer of “Diana” hope letting theater followers watch at house first will get them excited and keen to return to New York to see the present reside.
And lord is aware of this present wants all the assistance it might get. In a world of “Hadestown,” that is, at finest, an unimaginative middle-of-the-road try at turning Diana’s life into staged drama. Jeanna de Waal, clad in 80s trend and fluffy wigs, does her finest. However the titular Diana is hobbled by anodyne music, and cringeworthy lyrics. How can she maintain a candle (within the wind) to Emma Corrin’s take from “The Crown” season 4 and even Kristen Stewart’s upcoming “Spencer” portrayal? Frankly, the musical would have been higher off utilizing Elton John’s well-known quantity than among the authentic songs right here. (David Bryan, one of many nonfamous members of Bon Jovi, is accountable for the music.) There are a couple of real showstoppers — Judy Kaye, who performs Queen Elizabeth II, has a humanizing quantity towards the tip of the second half in “An Officer’s Spouse” — however in these instances it’s the actress overcoming the fabric, and never the opposite approach spherical. The present could name Charles a “third-rate Henry VIII,” however with “Six” taking part in down the road, that lyric would possibly change into the present’s epitaph.
If a midgrade musical can experience a streaming wave to a success, each musical on the town will probably be searching for its Netflix bump subsequent yr.
Besides, in fact, “Six” isn’t simply accessible to hundreds of thousands world wide. And in contrast to blockbusters, nobody can argue that watching a staged musical at house is similar expertise as seeing it in a theater – new followers must additionally come see it reside if they need the complete expertise.
Disney has made mountains of cash turning its animated musicals into long-running stage productions. Jukebox musicals that characteristic well-known tunes are moneymakers, from 1978’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’” (which took house a Tony) to the upcoming Britney Spears-scored “As soon as Upon a One Extra Time.” Vacationer households from out of city, who make up the majority of Broadway’s ticket gross sales, are much more keen to pay the exorbitant costs of seats for a reside present in the event that they know they’re assured to love what they hear. And now each single one in all them who has a Netflix subscription goes to know “Diana,” although not spectacular, is not less than a protected guess.
Transferring Broadway reveals to streaming isn’t going to be simple. Your complete business has been constructed on the idea of reside productions, and the a number of unions (and contracts) concerned in lots of instances expressly forbid the recording of their work. (As audiences are reminded on the prime of each reside efficiency they attend.) However ought to “Diana” succeed, it might pioneer a brand new mannequin for main Broadway reveals. If a midgrade musical can experience a streaming wave to a success, each musical on the town will probably be searching for its Netflix bump subsequent yr.