With American theater in suspended animation thanks to the pandemic, one Broadway show is planning to take the radical step of taping itself without an audience, and going straight to streaming. The producers of the musical Diana, which started performances on March 2 this year and shut down on March 12 before it could officially open, have announced plans to tape the show without an audience at its home at the Longacre Theatre and premiere it on Netflix early next year. “We speak for the entire company when we say that we couldn’t be more excited to finally be able share our show with theater lovers everywhere,” producers Grove Entertainment, Frank Marshall, and The Araca Group said in a joint statement. “Though there is no substitute for the live theater, we are honored to be a part of the quality entertainment that Netflix provides its subscribers worldwide.”
While producers typically resist releasing a film of a performance while a show is still running to avoid cannibalizing possible sales, Diana’s producing team insists the show will return for live performances after it premieres on Netflix. In this case, in keeping with several other shows betting that Broadway will be possible again in spring 2021, Diana plans to open onstage on May 25, 2021.
Diana stars Jeanna de Waal as Princess Diana and Roe Hartrampf as Prince Charles. Netflix seems like an appropriate home for the show given that the streaming service will soon introduce the ill-fated princess on The Crown. Christopher Ashley, who won a Tony for Come From Away, directs Diana, which has a book and lyrics from Joe DiPietro and music and lyrics by David Bryan. In a release, the producers said they have worked with Actor’s Equity on safety protocols for the taping process, but did not specify when the taping will take place, or which specific precautions will be implemented.
Diana is the first Broadway show directly shuttered by the pandemic to announce plans to debut on a streaming service, but major streaming platforms have recently shown more of an interest in hosting theatrical productions. While a niche service like BroadwayHD offers a variety of previously filmed productions, the bigger players have started to pick up more recent shows. Disney+ released their filmed version of Hamilton, edited together from a set of performances in front of audiences, in July, and has also announced plans to adapt Once on This Island, which had a recent acclaimed Broadway revival, into amovie. Spike Lee has already filmed David Byrne’s American Utopia, which was supposed to return this fall, for HBO. Netflix, meanwhile, has made film versions of Broadway’s American Son and The Boys in the Band, both with their Broadway casts, and is making a film version of The Prom with a posse of A-listers. Now, which service do we speak to about making what we all really need right now: a high-quality, riff-filled pro-shot of Six.
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