The true-life romance between an actual prince and princess is a great idea for a movie of the week, and certainly a good foundation for a musical too. Charles and Diana: The Musical struggles hard to keep itself from playing out like a movie of the week, and tells the story from a perspective a bit more thoughtful than might be expected, but this musical doesn’t quite take the modern fairytale to new heights.
The story starts with Diana’s death and her arrival in the afterlife, where she meets Vicar Bones (Alan Ostroff), who might be God or the Devil…. Bones offers Diana (Amanda Ladd) the chance to live her life over again and iron out her mistakes. Diana, of course, accepts the offer, and the audience gets to go along for the ride as they see Diana’s life from shortly before her marriage, right up to the mid-’90s.
The gimmick of Diana in the afterlife doesn't add a whole lot to the story, though it does make this more than just another biography. Lewis Papier's book does a good job of showing the lovelessness of the royal couple but, on the other hand, it doesn't do much to show the romance between Charles and Camilla (the Prince's mistress and true love). There are plenty of scenes with Charles and Camilla (Kate Greer) together, but this relationship comes across nearly as passionless as the royal marriage. There are a few scenes of comic relief involving a pair of British newscasters (who apparently just ended a fling), but these little reporter vignettes don't quite fit in with the rest of the show and aren’t terribly funny.
Amanda Ladd looked the part of Diana (sporting a short blond wig), but Robert Resnick was nearly a clone of Prince Charles, complete with his stuffy mannerisms. The leading cast members were all on target, but the supporting ensemble was often unimpressive. Tracy Rosten and Kenneth Garner certainly stood out, though, as the Queen and Prince Phillip, particularly when providing comic relief, like in their duet "Silver and Gold."
Papier's music iss intended to capture the feel of the ’80s, and it does so, though the New Wave sounds tended to blur together, leaving behind no memorable tunes. The use of canned music, instead of a live band, caused some troubles, and the cast were often drowned out by the sound system.
Clyde Baldo's direction made the most of the script and the limited production resources of this festival production. The costumes (by Mr. Baldo and Samantha Manas) were a cut above most showcase productions. The set was sparse, though it was perfectly functional, and made very efficient use of the small theatre, including staging numerous scenes on a small platform at the very foot of the stage.
Charles and Diana: The Musical is ultimately an entertaining but forgettable show. It certainly has greater potential to it, though at this stage of development the project is somewhere between Prince and frog.
(Also features: Amy Russ, Kiirstin Kuhi, and Natalie Delena)
Return to Volume Eleven, Number Twenty-four Index
Return to Volume Eleven Index
Return to Home Page
Copyright 2005 Charles Battersby