‘Diana: The Musical’ Review: A Shallow Pop Tribute to a Complicated Icon

Nearly a quarter-century ago, Princess Diana died trying to out-race a swarm of paparazzi. Though many blamed the media for that tragedy, the tabloidification of her life story continues to this day, this time with that most bloated form of homage: the Broadway musical.

Filmed in an empty theater last fall but bursting with the kind of broad, feel-good energy that typically packs the house with tourists in non-COVID times, “Diana: The Musical” brings “the people’s princess” directly to the people, in their homes, all but canonizing Diana as a feminist icon and saint in the process. (Seriously, how many words can one show rhyme with “martyr”?) With music by Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan and lyrics co-written by Bryan and book writer Joe DiPietro (the duo behind 2010 Tony winner “Memphis”), the project rides a fresh wave of Diana-mania: a kitsch stage tribute to balance the more critical/cynical takes still popping like so many flashbulbs around the late icon.

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