I just watched DIANA: THE MUSICAL …

Diana - The Musical Poster Art

I’m not a ga-ga person when it comes to celebrities or the royals. I honestly couldn’t care less. However, Princess Di was integral to my teen years, so I’ve seen just about everything there is on her and her life; she was just part of the Gen-X experience. Diana: The Musical was taped and is on Netflix, so I gave it a watch.

I’ll start by saying that I knew critics were crapping all over this, but if you know me personally, you know I don’t much listen to critics if I’m interested in something—I can make up my own mind, thank you, and that goes for movies, too. This time around, I only partially agree with some of what the critics had to say.

So, if you are interested in Princess Di—or at least curious and wondering if it’s worth two hours of your life—then yes check it out, if nothing else to take in the spectacular performance by the woman playing Diana, Jeanna de Waal—she was absolutely awesome (I strongly feel she deserves to at least be nominated for a Tony; that’s how great a job she did). In addition, seeing Diana’s famous outfits come to life again was magical, and in many places, so impressive I wondered how they did it (the wedding gown swap—you’ll understand what I mean if you see this—is particularly mind-blowing. I still can’t figure out how the hell they pulled that off). The costume designers deserve awards, as far as I’m concerned.

Diana - The Musical Wedding Shot

The wedding scene in DIANA: THE MUSICAL.

I was enamored with Erin Davie as Camilla—she was honestly one of the most interesting parts of the show and a joy to watch; in addition, I actually felt a little sympathetic toward her, and I’m sure that’s in Davie’s performance, not in the book. I also enjoyed seeing extended interactions between Diana and her sister, which doesn’t get highlighted too much in biopics or documentaries (I’ve not seen Spencer yet, but plan to, so I don’t know if that one touches upon it).

However, emotionally—and for me that’s key in a show—there’s nothing going on here. It’s rather flat. In fact, the whole thing feels like a docudrama; I didn’t cry when Diana died at the end. I cried for days after the real one passed, so … that tells me the writers of this show screwed up. It doesn’t seem to have any emotional draw, in fact, until the last two numbers, and even then, it’s kind of like, ‘well, so what. Required big finish.’

If you can see it on Netflix for free? Do it.

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at kristipetersenschoonover.com.

Posted on November 6, 2021, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Interesting review. All the good things that should be a play seem to be there, all except for, hm, no empathy for the character of Diana? (The character, not the real life person.)

    • Yeah, I really think it was a valiant effort, here, but I really do blame the writers of the book. I also think they probably should’ve done a microfocus instead of trying to cover her entire life–a play about the three days leading up to her wedding, or maybe the three days after, or just her pregnancy with William, or right after she left Charles, or surrounding her visit to the AIDs clinic, or the days leading up to the confrontation at the party with Camilla–any of those would’ve made for a strong show.

    • …the other thing is, I have long used crying as a litmus test. If you show me a movie involving a dead mother, for example, and I DON’T cry? You screwed up. I have a dead mother, so if I’m not bawling, then you, writer, did NOT do your job. In this case, I fully expected to cry because I was so attached to the real woman in my mind. She was the people’s princess–more relatable to the “common folk” than any royal previously–but somehow, they managed to write a musical about her that just distances us to the point of not caring. Wow.

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