Diana: The Musical is slammed by critics and viewers

Diana: The Musical is slammed after its Netflix release: Critics and viewers mock ‘hysterically awful’ lyrics including: ‘Harry, my ginger-haired son, you’ll always be second to none’

  • Diana: The Musical was due to premiere on Broadway in 2020 but was delayed 
  • Last week a filmed version of the production premiered on Netflix
  • The show has been roundly slammed by critics on both sides of the Atlantic 

The new Princess Diana musical has been roundly slammed by critics and viewers over its ‘hysterically awful’ lyrics and ‘absurdly over the top’ production.

Diana: The Musical was due to premiere on Broadway in 2020 but was delayed due to Covid. Last week a filmed version of the production premiered on Netflix, ahead of the stage show finally opening in New York next month. 

But any hope the televised version would drum up interest – and ticket sales – for the stage show has been dealt a serious blow by scathing reviews published on both sides of the Atlantic.

MailOnline’s Dan Wooton this week lambasted the show’s ‘degrading’ take on the Royal Family and called on Prince Harry, who has a deal with Netflix, to ‘speak out against such a horrendous depiction of his mother’.

Meanwhile The Evening Standard, the Guardian and the Chicago Tribune gave Diana: The Musical damning one-star reviews, while The Times asks: ‘Which is the most excruciating song?’

Diana: The Musical was due to premiere on Broadway in 2020 but was delayed due to Covid. Last week a filmed version of the production premiered on Netflix, ahead of the show finally opening in New York later this year. Pictured, Jeanna de Waal as Diana

Revealed: The ’embarrassing’ lyrics that have left reviewers cringing 

Charles, cradling newborn: ‘Darling, I’m holding our son / So let me say, jolly well done.’

Chorus of onlookers at a fancy party thrown by Camilla Parker Bowles (Erin Davie), crashed by her romantic rival: ‘It’s the ‘Thrilla in Manilla’ / But with Diana and Camilla!’  

Diana being chased by paparazzi who chant: ‘Better than a Guinness, better than a w**k / Snap a few pics, it’s money in the bank’

Diana, cradling Harry: ‘Harry, my ginger-haired son / You’ll always be second to none.’

A man dying of AIDS sings to Diana: ‘I may be unwell, but I’m handsome as hell.’

Diana lamenting: ‘Serves me right for marrying a Scorpio.’

The laughable lyrics have been lambasted in almost every review, with the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips noting it would almost be ‘tolerable’ if you didn’t have to listen to it.

Highlighting some of the worst offenders, Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson wrote: ‘There is the howler when a man dying of AIDS sings to Diana, “I may be unwell, but I’m handsome as hell.”‘

‘Or a song in which happily scandalized partygoers sing about “a Thrilla in Manilla with Diana and Camilla.” Or Diana lamenting, “Serves me right for marrying a Scorpio.” Or Diana cooing to her infant son, “​​Harry my ginger-haired son / You’ll always be second to none”.’ 

He continued: ‘These lyrics are not, as presented in the production, meant to be silly and campy. They are just the stilted, embarrassingly serious ramblings of a show that has no interest in real humanity.’ 

Star Jeanna de Waal, 30, was criticised for her performance, with Variety’s Peter Debruge remarking on its lack of nuance.

Meanwhile Wootton wrote: Diana: The Musical is the most offensive and degrading portrayal of the late Princess of Wales in fiction since her death in 1997 – and in terms of accuracy it makes that other historically-derided Netflix series The Crown look like a royal encyclopaedia of truth,’ .

Star Jeanna de Waal, 30, was criticised for her performance, with Variety’s Peter Debruge remarking on its lack of nuance. Pictured, with Roe Hartrampf as Prince Charles

Star Jeanna de Waal, 30, was criticised for her performance, with Variety’s Peter Debruge remarking on its lack of nuance, while others, including MailOnline’s Dan Wootton, blasted the lack of accuracy. Pictured, Jeanna as Diana with Judy Kaye as the Queen

‘The lies about Di’s life are egregious – from suggesting she used HIV patients for publicity to attacking Margaret Thatcher for her politics.’

The criticism has been echoed by viewers, who have taken to Twitter to mock the production – with the ‘appalling’ lyrics once again becoming a target. 

One tweeted: ‘I just watched the first 20 minutes of Diana the musical to wind down after preview 2 and I am so tired I think I am hallucinating. Can people please confirm this is actually a thing because it is like a fever dream.’

Viewers have taken to Twitter to mock and criticise the musical, with several blasting the lyrics

Another posted: ‘All you need to know about the Diana musical on Netflix is that it has a song that contains the lyrics “it’s a thrilla in Manila with Diana and Camilla”.’

A third added simply: ‘Whoever decided to create “Diana the Musical” on Netflix made a HORRIBLE mistake Grimacing face #DianaTheMusical.’ 

Here, FEMAIL offers a snapshot of what the critics had to say…

THE EVENING STANDARD

Rating:

Jessie Thompson writes: ‘The whole thing feels like the result of someone who read Tina Brown’s The Diana Chronicles on a sunlounger, semi-p****d on margaritas while listening to Aerosmith. Actually, no, that makes it sound quite good…

‘Camilla (Erin Davie) hangs around every scene like a ghost at the feast; the show’s attitude to her and Charles is summed up in one hysterically unsubtle lyric – “he’s a third rate Henry VIII and she’s Godzilla”. 

‘Worse still are the shlocky lyrics, which made me feel like I was being bludgeoned over the head by a commemorative crockery set. 

‘They go from the lamentable – “Feel the groove, even royals need to move” – to the nonsensical – “Hearts bend, break, burst and sever”… do they? Hearing the words “Jaaames Hewitttt” sung in the manner of Meatloaf made me honestly wonder if I was on acid.’

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Rating:

Michael Phillips writes: ‘Diana: The Musical is a hunk of Wensleydale cheese now streaming on Netflix, and in this case the “r” in “streaming” is optional…

‘Already “Diana: The Musical” has drawn slack-jawed quality comparisons to the film version of “Cats.” But “Cats” was different — dubious material handled badly, a compilation of misjudgments and digital fur. This one’s a matter of shoddy material staged efficiently and fluidly by director Christopher Ashley, aided by a solid cast of pros swimming upstream, trying hard not to mentally rewrite librettist and lyricist Joe DiPietro’s words with every stroke…

‘It’s tolerable, I suppose, if you don’t have to listen to it. Unfortunately it’s a musical so you have to listen to it.’ 

THE TIMES

Rating:

Clive Davis writes: ‘[It] really does plumb new depths. DiPietro — whose new show, What’s New Pussycat, opens at Birmingham Rep this month — has said he did not aim to be “campy”. Yet what else can you make of a venture that goes so absurdly over the top? 

‘Jeanna De Waal captures Diana’s shy glance, but there’s not much else she can do with a cardboard cut-out, while Judy Kaye’s portrayal of the Queen seems to be channelling Hyacinth Bucket. Roe Hartrampf makes a simpering Charles; Erin Davie turns Camilla Parker Bowles into the Wicked Witch of the West. 

‘When she and a vengeful Diana come face to face at a fancy dinner, you wouldn’t be at all surprised if DiPietro and Bryan staged a bout of mud-wrestling. That said, they do give us James Hewitt as a bare-chested, jodphur-wearing sex god.’

THE GUARDIAN 

Rating:

Stuart Heritage writes: ‘What a genuinely bizarre work of art this is… You could stick a pin in almost every song and pull out a line that makes the whole endeavour feel like it was specifically created as a berserk prank against the world. 

‘My particular favourite is the moment when Diana looks into a crib and tenderly sings: “Harry, my ginger-haired son / You’ll always be second to none.” 

‘But others might prefer the part when the Queen belts out a song about Prince Charles’s inability to keep it in his pants, or the song that appears to be called A Thriller in Manilla with Camilla.’

 

THE i

Rating:

Andrzej Lukowski writes: ‘Really, it’s not bad at all. Ultimately the only thing I was left slightly struggling with was the exact point: DiPietro’s central thesis is to portray Diana in a positive, uplifting light as a woman who overcame adversity to find and better herself: “I choose happiness, I choose a fresh new start” she sighs, radiantly, near the end. 

‘But if you’re somebody who struggles to find the British monarchy especially interesting, there’s maybe a sense of consequentiality missing here.

‘Conversely, if you think her too-short life was a bitter tragedy, you may be taken aback by the largely upbeat mood. Still, it’s good-natured fun with a big heart, probably best enjoyed after a couple of white wine spritzers.’  

VANITY FAIR

Richard Lawson writes: ‘Diana is a shellacked lump of product born solely of cold, money-minded cynicism.

‘The show, from writer Joe DiPietro and musician David Bryan (of Bon Jovi fame), positions itself as something revelatory, and is advertised as a peek behind the curtain to see what really happened when young Diana Spencer married Prince Charles. It does nothing of the sort. Anyone who has watched Netflix’s The Crown or, I don’t know, briefly skimmed a Wikipedia article will already know pretty much everything that’s clumsily explicated in the musical…

‘The musical claims to be telling this story so that we may better understand Diana, to see her as a person, not just an icon. But the production exists entirely to exploit her legacy, to crassly run us through a recitation of known events (and fashion moments) in order to extract more money out of the whole sorry circus.’

VARIETY 

Peter Debruge writes: ‘The one-dimensionality of this portrayal reveals how little we truly understood about the woman’s inner world. Gaps left by tabloids were filled in part by Andrew Morton’s controversial biography, based largely on input from Diana herself — a process depicted here in the show’s catchiest song, “The Words Came Pouring Out.” 

‘But so many secrets remain unrevealed, and the rest relies heavily on speculation. Diana’s divorce was considerably more complicated than Bryan and DiPietro make it out to be, and she dies abruptly one song later — not “Candle in the Wind,” alas.

‘Experiencing the musical on screen makes “Diana” feel all the more inadequate, since closeups call for a more nuanced performance than de Waal is prepared to give.’ 

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