Sunday, April 21, 2024

UPDATE Atrocious, Tuneless “Diana” Musical Rips off 70s Music, Someone Call Pete Townshend Now


“Diana: The Musical” is just atrocious. We are so lucky to not to have to see it in person on Broadway. Instead, it’s on Netflix. Unoriginal doesn’t begin to describe it. The so called songs are derivations of 70s rock songs, sounding a lot like bad Elton John even worse semblances of The Who.

The worst of these things completely rips off Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open the Door.” He can really call his lawyers now.

The real shock is that people, smart people, spent so much time, money, and effort on this awful project, and during a pandemic. There is no book. It’s just a timeline of Diana and Charles’s relationship, set to banal rock stylings. There are no actual songs–the singing is simply dialogue put to “music” that is without theme or sense.

The cast is uniformly bad save for Judy Kaye, who does her best knowing she’s trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Roe Hartrampf, who plays Charles, cannot sing. He must not try again. Jeanne de Waal is not vocally prepared to take on all of this sludge. She also makes Diana look like a frumpy kindergarten teacher. The real life person I felt sorriest for was Captain James Hewitt, who is reduced to being Diana’s boytoy.

The plot? Like I said, it’s just the timeline, and a few facts become alternative ones as Joe DiPietro tweaks them, inventing things that never happened. We finally rumble to the point where Diana and Charles divorce and then jump ahead to her death — skipping quite a lot including Dodi Fayed and a few others along the way. Poor Dodi– erased from history by a musical.

Who are these people? They are cut out figures from People magazine, without any soul, history, depth, or background. We have no idea what they’re doing or why they’re doing it, and neither do they. They are one dimensional caricatures.

The problem with these musical biographies of people who’ve died after celebrity is that there is no happy ending. We will leave the Michael Jackson musical feeling that way, and certainly plans for a Whitney Houston musical will also end in tears. It’s not going to work to just delete the parts of a story you don’t like to get a musical to work on stage.

As I wrote in the prior item, “Diana” isn’t really selling advance tickets. Its prospects are not encouraging. Maybe it seemed like a good idea once, but by now it’s not and should be abandoned before anyone else gets hurt.

PS The musical excises all mention of Prince Philip, any of Charles’s siblings, the doctor Diana dated before she died, Diana’s brother (also named Charles), and so on. After watching “The Crown,” you might call this Royals for Dummies.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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