I’m old enough that I don’t just remember when Diana Spencer died, I remember when she was married. I was little-ish, and my mother had somehow acquired a luxe program-style booklet about the wedding, which contained extreme levels of detail about the enor…….
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I’m old enough that I don’t just remember when Diana Spencer died, I remember when she was married. I was little-ish, and my mother had somehow acquired a luxe program-style booklet about the wedding, which contained extreme levels of detail about the enormous dress, the flower girls’ headdresses, the veil. And sitting there under our Kansas dining-room table looking at pages of pretty princess pictures, I came to one of the most useful realizations of my young life: I get it, I thought, rich people don’t have taste.
A costume parade disguised as a terrible Broadway musical rings that gong as well. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the pop-rock Diana: The Musical is (deliberately?) bad — Netflix filmed it during the shutdown, so there’s been plenty of opportunity for interested folks to test run it on their laptops. Maybe you’ve seen the gif of a topless James Hewitt (Gareth Keegan) rising up through the floor on a saddle, or Diana (Jeanna de Waal) singing about how much she wishes Prince Charles (Roe Hartrampf) would listen to hipper music. “Perhaps this girl can turn him into a rocker!” Diana cries, bored at a cello concert, as the ensemble does aggressive shrug-dancing all around her.
It’s hard to know whether it was wise of the producers to release the film. On the bright side, it ensures they have a prepared audience, ready for lyrics like “So how about this fuck you dress / this fuckity-fuckity-fuckity-fuckity fuck you dress.” On the bleak side, it means that savage reviews predate their Broadway opening night. And, look, cheesy is fine; goofy fake accents are no problem. There are a dozen quick changes for Diana that even add a little merriment. (William Ivey Long did the costumes, though he has since parted ways with the production.) The trouble lies in the show’s faltering execution. For instance, designer David Zinn has built the show a lovely Buckingham Palace, repeating the gilt folderol of the Longacre Theatre’s proscenium on the columns and gates that enclose the stage. But as director Christopher Ashley sends the columns gliding hither and thither to create various interiors and exteriors, the structures often … wobble. A scene might already be in motion — Diana is phoning a journalist or whatever — and a ten-foot-tall column will come sneaking up behind her, giving a little hiccup as it settles into place. Has the palace wall been drinking? one wonders. Certainly it’s late to work.
Speaking of …….