A few weeks ago I did an interview with Elle Magazine and they asked me about Princess Dianas in Hollywood history. Of Diana: the Musical, I told journalist Lauren Puckett-Pope, “I love the character of Diana that they crafted. It is the only movie or show that I’ve seen that even attempts to document Diana’s infamous sense of humor. I loved this snarky and lively portrayal of Diana. She was full of life and sunshine on stage and I think that was a win. Because the musical is so different from anything else, I can’t tell you whether it was Jeanna de Waal or the writing that made me happy.”
Now that I’ve seen it LIVE I can say it was most certainly both.
Seeing Diana: the Musical on Broadway was such a fun, boisterous, celebration! Jeanna de Waal illuminates the stage as if the spotlight weren’t even necessary. I am so disappointed by the obsession with the Diana victim narrative and the emphasis on bulimia and mental health that we are currently seeing with 2020/2021’s Diana resurgence. She was so much more than this and that is where Diana: the Musical dominates. Making it a story about a happy, hilarious woman who fought for what she believed in and loved so sincerely that her compassion and kindness set the world on fire. Jeanna embodies the naïvety and innocence of the girl that still wrangled nursery school children between chaperoned dates with the Prince of Wales. Fast forward to the woman that had the courage to confront her husband’s lover at a party. That evolution takes a lot of skill! Not to mention an incredible set of pipes! The audience cheered every time Jeanna took the stage or made a sneaky costume change. This role was made for her.
Gareth Keegan plays James Hewitt and is precious! Hewitt has literally no idea what an icon he seems to be to the Broadway audience… that absolutely loses their minds when he pops up shirtless from the floor. (Yet, don’t forget that Hewitt goes on to try to sell Diana’s love letters to him shortly after her death. Lame.)
Roe Hartrampf continues the tradition of absolutely gorgeous men cast to play Prince Charles. A man that arguably lacks movie star qualities. He does an excellent job in making Charles come off as totally square. I also appreciate that there is a likability but coldness to him from the get-go so you are not as heartbroken by his actions… (Looking at you Josh O’Connor.) I did shake my head angrily during “All you’ve ever done is marry me!” but that was the point, wasn’t it? Obviously, the body wave dance is my favorite move because it was so out of character and hilarious.
I enjoyed Judy Kaye as Queen Elizabeth because it did not feel like she was impersonating the real Queen. She developed a no-nonsense character that is very aware of her son’s flaws. The audience erupted with laughter when she made an “off with your head” joke.
And kudos to the very talented Erin Davie who bravely took on the role of Camilla Parker Bowles. It’s got to be hard to play the villain in such an iconic tale but at the end of the day… she might just be playing a future Queen consort!
Diana: The Musical officially opened on Broadway Wednesday. The play was written by Tony winners Joe DiPietro and David Bryan and directed by Tony winner Christopher Ashley. The choreography is by Olivier Award winner Kelly Devine with musical supervision and arrangements by Olivier Award winner Ian Eisendrath. Tickets start at $39.00 and you can purchase them here.
Congratulations to the entire cast and crew. See Diana: The Musical on Broadway immediately.