Diana The Musical: A Royally Chaotic Masterpiece

Diana The Musical: A Royally Chaotic Masterpiece

“Diana: The Musical” has certainly had one of the most unique roll outs of any Broadway show. Originally planned to open in March of 2020, the show had to temporarily close due to COVID-19. The show is now planned to open in November, but a pro-shoot of the new musical was released first to Netflix on Oct. 1, more than a month before live performances start. Did this unusual release order provide the audience with a good first impression of the new musical?

The show follows Diana, The Princess of Wales, from when her relationship with Prince Charles first started through their divorce. The musical showcases the bombardment and trauma Diana endured from both the press and the royal family, mainly covering Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles famous affair. 

While many critics have been calling the songs in “Diana: The Musical” unoriginal and awkward, I personally have been listening to the soundtrack nonstop. Yes, some of the lyrics are ridiculously cheesy and cliche, but such is the case for most musicals. The songs always serve the purpose of furthering the story and characters, as well as just being a joy to listen to. My personal favorites were “She Moves in the Most Modern Ways,” which perfectly embodies Princess Diana’s relatable public persona, and “Him and Her,” which showcased what a mess of affairs Diana and Charle’s marriage was dissolved into.

The story, while I doubt that it is the most historically accurate, was very interesting and engaging. The most interesting parts to me were the elements of the story that highlights societal expectations and standards that are embedded in young girls, causing them to make excuses for abusive and manipulative behaviors they experience as women in order to accomplish what we have been taught to believe should be “happily ever after.”

While the musical doesn’t exactly display Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles in the best of light, the true villain in the story truly was expectations. Both the expectation other people and society puts on all the characters, and the expectations the characters put on other people and society. This compelling theme leads me to forgive the more awkward story beats and historical inaccuracies, because I understand that they are in service of a very important message that really resonated with me.

While I praise many parts of “Diana: The Musical,” it is a far from perfect production. I like most of the songs, but the bad songs are so, so bad. “This is How Your People Dance” is truly one of the worst and most out of place showtunes I have ever heard. The song reeks of a “Tony Awards” or “Thanksgiving Day Parade” performance number with its pop melody and terrible, referential lyrics, which sucks because I don’t think it is a fair representation of the show itself.

Additionally, I don’t think the subject of Princess Diana’s tragic death was handled well. As an audience, we all know that Princess Diana died young in a car crash; however, the musical doesn’t acknowledge this until the very end with no foreshadowing. When they do finally address it, it comes out of nowhere and just leaves the audience feeling hopeless as we watched this woman suffer throughout the whole two hour runtime with seemingly no resolution. I understand that there is no positive way to address Diana’s death, but I know that there has to be a better way than what “Diana: The Musical” did, especially when you consider other contemporary musicals like “Hamilton” and “Six: The Musical,” which also revolve around historical figures who died young, where the stories are built around this conclusion.

Is “Diana: The Musical” a masterpiece? Absolutely not. Is it a fun time for the most part with catchy songs? Definitely. If you don’t like musicals, you won’t like this, but if you have a soft spot for people spontaneously bursting into songs while wearing fun, 70s fashion, “Diana: The Musical” may be the movie for you.