With the 25th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana just around the corner in 2022, the proliferation of Diana-based dramatizations is ramping up. The Crown got there first with Emma Corrin's Emmy nominated turn in Season 4 as the late Princess of Wales and will follow it up next year with Elizabeth Debicki taking over the role for Seasons 5 and 6. Likewise, Diana's story is almost certainly going to be in the Oscar race come this winter, thanks to Kristen Stewart's turn in the role in Spencer, which opened at the Venice International Film Festival to rapturous reviews. And now there's a version gunning for Tonys, with Diana, a Broadway musical opening at the Longacre this Fall.
Diana was supposed to be the first out of the gate, with an opening night scheduled for March 2020. We all know what happened there, as the COVID-19 pandemic shut the whole thing down before it got out of previews. (Pity the reviewers who have been sitting on finished copy for going on two years, all of which is still under embargo.) The show has since rescheduled its premiere twice, first hoping to open in December 2020 and now with previews restarting in November 2021. The new opening night is coming on Nov. 17, 2021, variants willing.
But in the in-between time, Disney+ went ahead and scored its first non-Marvel non-Star Wars smash hit in July 2020 with a filmed version of Hamilton: An American Musical, bringing out a cry from theater lovers that they would watch stage productions filmed for streaming. Now, that's a lot easier said than done, as live theater union contracts are structured in such a way that deliberately prevents filmed versions of shows from being put on television except under specific circumstances. (Hamilton's was a special case, so are most of the shows that wind up on PBS' Great Performances.)
Netflix heard the cry and grabbed Diana (which it now calls Diana: The Musical) which, having not opened yet, was in a position to rework contracts, and more importantly, desperately needed the PR boost, having lost nearly two years' worth of money due to the pandemic. The resulting filmed-onstage-specifically-for-television performance will premiere on streaming before the show opens. It debuts on Oct. 1, with the hope that people who see it on streaming will then be moved to buy tickets the next time they visit New York City. Diana will be the first time in Broadway history that the filmed version of a show will premiere on TV before it opens on Broadway. (Since previews don't start until Nov. 2, it will be on Netflix an entire month before live shows resume.)
Jeanna de Waal (Kinky Boots) stars as Princess Diana, which originated in the 2019 off-broadway run at the La Jolla Playhouse. Roe Hartrampf (Equity) plays Prince Charles, and Erin Davie (Grey Gardens) is Camilla, with Broadway legend Judy Kaye (The Phantom of the Opera) as Queen Elizabeth II. The musical will not, as Spencer does, focus on one moment in Diana's story but will cover her life from when Charles initially plucked her from obscurity after her sister became a non-starter for marriage straight through to her death in 1997.
Diana: The Musical debuts on Netflix on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.