Princess Diana musical will stream on Netflix ahead of 2021 Broadway debut

A new musical about Britain’s Princess Diana will be filmed without an audience and air on Netflix before it debuts on Broadway.

Announcing the news on Wednesday, the show’s producers said Diana will be available on the streaming platform in early 2021, as Broadway remains closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We couldn’t be more excited to finally be able to share our show with theatre lovers everywhere,” the producers said in a statement. “Though there is no substitute for the live theatre, we are honoured to be a part of the quality entertainment that Netflix provides its subscribers worldwide.”

Diana had been set to open this March, but the debut was delayed as Broadway closed its theatres to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The production, which chronicles Diana’s courtship and marriage to Britain’s Prince Charles and eventual divorce, is now scheduled to open on May 25, 2021.

The Actors’ Equity Association, a labour union representing stage actors, said it had approved a safety plan for rehearsals and recording of the musical. The plan includes regular coronavirus testing, isolating actors and stage managers and changes to ventilation in backstage areas, the group said in a statement.

Ahead of its postponement, the show had started a number of preview runs in early March, and it’s fair to say the resulting reviews split opinion.

The LA Times was damning in its verdict of the show, saying it is “no more British than The Real Housewives of New Jersey”. The Times’ critic Charles McNulty added that the show is “as American as Applebee’s [and] has a generic quality that for all its efficient smoothness seems culturally misplaced”.

McNulty concluded: “The show doesn’t work, but that hardly matters these days for a musical that can draw in the tourist masses.”

The Hollywood Reporter was less harsh in its assessment. The Reporter’s Deborah Wilker claimed that the show “seems to have many of the pieces needed for a hit”, and added that the British public would “eat it up”.

The news comes just days after it was revealed that the filmed version of smash Broadway hit Hamilton, which aired on Disney+ in July, racked up three times more viewers than the most-watched show on streaming rival Netflix.

Audience research compiled by 7Data showed that 37.1 per cent of survey respondents watched Hamilton last month, compared to the second widest-reaching show on Netflix, true crime documentary series Unsolved Mysteries, which 13.7 per cent of respondents had watched.

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