Saturday, May 18, 2024

Broadway: “Diana” Musical Opens to Scathing Reviews, Teeters on Closing Almost Immediately


At long last, “Diana: The Musical” has opened on Broadway like a meteor set to destroy the Earth.

The reviews are scathing. The New York Times calls it “exploitative.”, which likes everything, labels it “a royal mess.” says it’s so bad “it must be seen.”  Washington Post drama critic: “As with the car crash that took her life, the most appropriate response to “Diana” the musical is to look away.”

And so on.

These were not the first negative reviews. Last Friday, a man sitting in the orchestra reportedly yelled “F— you!” at the actor playing Prince Charles.

And this after a disastrous filming and showing on Netflix panned by everyone who came near it. On Rotten Tomatoes, the filmed version has a lowly 12%.

Indeed, the reaction to “Diana” is like watching Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom read the reviews for “Springtime for Hitler,” before the plot twist. “Diana” may gone down in history as worse than the previous record holder for a disaster, “The Moose Murders.”

Who is responsible for this catastrophe? The book writer Joe DiPietro, The musical’s songwriters, David Bryan and DiPietro, the actors who are one after another hideously bad, the producers who persisted in this even when the pandemic might have set them free from actually opening.

Can “Diana” remain open until tomorrow? Or will this wretch of a musical that famously rhymed “the thrilla in Manila” with “Camilla” close tonight? There is no advance sale to speak of. According to the Telecharge maps, Saturday night this week is fairly empty. And then it gets worse. Next Saturday, during the Thanksgiving weekend, you could sail paper airplanes through the Longacre Theater during the performance and not bother a patron.

Maybe the Netflix sale, so unusual, helped keep things going. The budget, however, is well into the millions already, even if Netflix helped offset it. That money is gone. The party at the Palace (Buckingham) is almost over. If the announcement doesn’t come tonight or tomorrow, by the weekend it will surely arrive.



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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