With Broadway still shuttered, Netflix is doing for the theater community what it and other streaming services have done for the movie business: airing content that can’t be seen where it was initially intended. On Wednesday, the Los Gatos-based company announced that it will stream a specially filmed version of “Diana: A Musical,” a new show about the British princess, ahead of its debut on Broadway.
“Diana” began previews on March 2, with its opening scheduled for March 31 at the Longacre Theater, only to be shut down because of Covid-19.
It will be recorded without an audience at the Longacre next month and will feature the original Broadway cast, including Jeanna de Waal as Diana, Roe Hartrampf as Prince Charles, Erin Davie as Camilla Parker Bowles and Judy Kaye as Queen Elizabeth. A promotional message added to the musical’s website Wednesday morning said it would be “Coming to Netflix in Early 2021.”
Christopher Ashley, the head of La Jolla Playhouse, where the show originated, is the director of the musical, which features book, music and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan, 2010 Tony Award winners for “Memphis.” The new show was capitalized at up to $17,750,000.
“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,” the lead producers, Beth Williams, 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.”
The announcement said the musical still planned to open on Broadway, now on May 25, 2021.
And in a separate statement on Wednesday, Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union, said it has approved a safety plan that will allow for the actors in “Diana” to rehearse, record a cast album and mount a performance for recording. With very few exceptions, the union has barred its members from performing live onstage during the pandemic, arguing that it risks their safety.
The provisions of the plan include initial and recurring testing, an isolation protocol for the actors and stage managers, and changes to the theater’s air-conditioning system to ensure ventilation to the backstage areas of the building.
Netflix has showcased theatrical works on its service before, streaming “American Son,” starring Kerry Washington, in 2019. Ryan Murphy is trying to finish up his film adaptation of the Broadway musical “The Prom,” starring Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells and Keegan-Michael Key, which was scheduled for release in 2020.