The 2019-2020 entertainment season started out looking like one for the royal family. After a year's delay, The Crown Season 3 was set to debut on Netflix. Harry and Meghan's love story seemed like a picture-perfect storybook ending the youngest son of Charles and Diana. And Diana's story would also get a new treatment, with a Broadway musical heading for Broadway, set to open in early 2020. Of course, that was then. First, there was Sussexit, and then the coronavirus pandemic closed Broadway. But there's good news: The Princess Diana musical is coming to Netflix, in a historic first.
Diana: A True Musical Story was only weeks from opening on stage when the pandemic shut down New York City and Broadway. Previews had already started at the beginning of March, with Jeanna de Waal starring as the titular Diana, and the show was chugging along for a March 31 opening night. But closures has forced producers to reschedule. With Broadway shuttered through the end of the year, Diana is now set to open in May of 2021.
But such long gaps in performing are hard on actors, not to mention the rest of the extras and crew who create on-stage magic. Moreover, Hamilton just created a giant splash with a professionally filmed version of the musical phenomenon taking Disney+ by storm. Hamilton inspired fans to ask why other musicals couldn't follow suit and release their archival filmed footage.
The answer is contracts, union and otherwise, none of which were designed with the thought of showing a creation made for live performance as possible to be released on streaming. But while older material is tied up in a century's worth of red tape, newer fare, like the as-yet unopened Diana, are in a position to rework the paperwork, as it were.
With artists stuck at home, why not contract with a streaming service to film the musical? It will get Diana: A True Musical Story the audiences it's not able to host right now, and guarantees everyone will have heard about it, if not seen it, by the time it finally makes its Broadway debut.
Diana will be filmed, sans audience, on stage at Broadways' Longacre Theatre, with the production implementing all the safety protocols required of hosting a gathering. Speaking to Deadline, the Actors' Equity Association executive director Mary McColl confirmed Netflix would also include rehearsal takes and footage of the making of the show's original Broadway cast recording as part of the package.
The Netflix special's cast will include all the main actors from the show, including de Waal, Roe Hartrampf as Prince Charles, Erin Davie as Camilla Parker Bowles, and Tony Award winner Judy Kaye as Queen Elizabeth.
Netflix has not yet set a date for Diana: A True Musical Story.