Broadway musical Diana is not waiting for theatres to reopen in New York to offer its show to a live audience — it is going to Netflix.
In an unconventional step, the cast and crew will reunite in an empty theatre to perform the musical for cameras and put the finished product on the digital platform for broadcast next year, before the show welcomes a live audience again.
“We speak for the entire company when we say that we couldn’t be more excited to finally be able to share our show with theatre lovers everywhere. 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,” the show’s producers said.
They have worked out safety protocols with the Actors’ Equity Association, the union representing actors and stage managers. The provisions include initial and recurring testing for Equity members, an isolation plan for actors and stage managers, and changes to ensure ventilation in the back of the theatre, among other requirements.
— DIANA: A New Musical (@DianaOnBroadway) August 12, 2020
Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, said: “Now comes the hard part — taking a safety plan from the page and putting it into practice. The work to provide the safest workplace possible in this environment will require everyone to work together, from the employer to every employee.”
Netflix has several live-capture Broadway shows in its library — like Bruce Springsteen’s one-man musical and Kerry Washington’s American Son — but the cameras usually filmed at the end of the live show’s run, or the release was made after the show’s conclusion.
Diana, which tells the story of the late Princess of Wales, started previews on Broadway in early March but never officially opened at the Longacre Theatre before the pandemic wiped out all live theatre. Producers said on Wednesday that the show’s new opening night will be May 25th next year.
Shows usually have a few weeks of previews where kinks are worked out and changes can be made before critics are invited to attend the finished product. Diana never got over the finish line this year.
Data has indicated that instead of cannibalising fans, broadcasts of theatrical shows may whet an audience’s appetite. A recent survey by ticketing app TodayTix found more than a third of respondents who had not seen Hamilton live were more likely to buy a ticket after seeing the recent broadcast of the musical on Disney+.
Diana has songs by Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan and a story by playwright Joe DiPietro. The pair also collaborated on the Tony-winning Memphis.
The show stars Jeanna De Waal in the title role, and explores Diana’s glamour and charity work and the slow public crumbling of her relationship with the Prince of Wales. She died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi.
Her story is also featured in season 4 of The Crown and her sons — princes Harry and William — are a source of constant news.