For the opening of Diana The Musical, the four-man queue outside the Longacre Theatre is Broadway is long. 

This cold New York night is filled with sugary aromas from the doughnut shop around the corner, and the air is heavy with expectation.

Here, a post-covid crowd clamour for glamour, they’re in the mood for feel good — and what better than to revisit the life of the former Princess of Wales, played out in a rock opera that purports to be ‘about a woman who chose to be fearless, and as a result became timeless’.

Is this true? It doesn’t matter for the moment because, when the curtain goes down after two hours and a dozen musical numbers, a state di-infused delirium reigns in the auditorium of 1,000 seats.

Outside the Longacre Theatre on Broadway the vaxxed and masked queue is four deep for the opening of Diana The Musical. Pictured: : Jeanna de Waal as Princess Diana

The queue of vaxxed and masking people outside the Longacre Theatre, Broadway is four deep for Diana The Musical’s opening. Pictured: : Jeanna de Waal as Princess Diana

The audience cheers, and bouquets fall around Jeanna de Waal’s legs as she plays Diana from 19 to 36. It is a fevered biographical arc which runs the gamut of innocence to icon, overwrought to underpass, and barely pauses for breath.

Diana was written by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan (book and lyrics). It is directed by Christopher Ashley (whose credits include the Broadway productions of Memphis and Xanadu).

It ran for nine performances at first, before it was shut down by the pandemic in 2011. A filmed version of the show has been streaming on Netflix for a few days.

Yet, to see Diana in all her queasy glory you must be in a theatre. There will be grown men sobbing and someone shouting, ‘Go Diana! Every time the Princess shows a spark,

Now, I want to be truthful. This American musical is energetic, deft, and has great costumes. However it isn’t the best musical ever.

Some lyrics are not great, but they are a crime against rhyme that should be punished.

The life of the former Princess of Wales is played out in a rock opera 'about a woman who chose to be fearless'. Pictured: Judy Kaye as the Queen and Roe Hartrampf as Prince Charles

A rock opera about the life of the former Princess and Prince of Wales tells the story of her life. Pictured: Judy Kaye as the Queen and Roe Hartrampf as Prince Charles

Diana sings: “Oh Harry, my ginger-haired boy, you will be second only to none,”

Later she wants to tell ‘the truth about Charles and his mistress Camilla — he’s a third rate Henry VIII and she’s Godzilla.’

Every pantomime moment, every tortured lyric are enjoyed by the audience. They cheer when Camilla addresses Camilla correctly and gasp when Charles is seen in bed with Camilla.

She sniffs. (‘Go, Diana! Even more laughter is heard when HRH suggests that Charles is a little lacking at lovemaking.

She trills, “He’s not very well,” as she romps instead, with a topless James Hewitt, oiled up for her delectation.

It’s meant to be fun, but much of it is rather sad and reductive — these are real people after all, with real feelings.

Diana’s life, like others in her inner circle, was a richly textured narrative fraught with joys and sadness, with bravery and calamity — but there is no room for delicacy of purpose here.

Prince Charles (Roe Harttrampf), struts around in silken dressing gowns, like a paisley-patterned Dalek. He wriggles his hands and longs for ‘unfiltered conversation’ about architecture.

Camilla (Erin Davies), a dilute Cruella plotting and moaning that she doesn’t get to spend Sundays with her royal love, is Camilla.

Diana is a simple, silly martyr. Yes she is! Oh no she’s not!

She sings, “You thought I was a Ninny, you could mold me as you wish, the skinny on the Ninnie is that she’s really quite bright.” Excuse me for whining, but that’s really quite cringeworthy.

Even though nearly a quarter of century has passed since Diana’s passing, her presence on stage, screen, and page is as strong as ever. 

Remarkably, 40 years after she married Prince Charles, her face is once more on freshly printed tea towels and crockery; in the Longacre theatre shop, fans snap up the towels for £17 each, alongside Diana mugs at £18, fridge magnets for £7 each and a zip up hoodie for £43.

Diana is definitely having an moment. Emma Corrin played her in The Crown (Netflix), where her unhappiness rises above the swamp of royal life.

The film Spencer opens in the UK this week. Kristen Stewart, a Hollywood actress, plays the Princess who is enmeshed in chaos at Sandringham during Christmas. She eats a necklace, then throws herself in front the guns during a pheasant shoot, as the uncaring Windsors watch with disgust.

Was she really that insane? Are the Royals really that bad, or was she just crazy?

Spencer is beautifully shot. However, it is a horror film. It is very similar to The Shining. Pablo Larrain directed it. It starts with the Princess throwing up in Sandringham loos for the first five minute, and then she self-harms later with a pair if wire cutters.

“Mummy, why are you so sad?” At one point, Prince William asks. Well, quite. She says, “I’ve been wondering what they will write about my in a thousand years,” in another scene. 

The audience laps up every pantomime moment and tortured lyric. They gasp when Charles is seen onstage in bed with Camilla (pictured: played by Erin Davie)

Every pantomime moment, every tortured lyric are embraced by the audience. They gasp when Charles appears onstage in bed beside Camilla (pictured: Erin Davie).

It won’t take that long for anyone to get their answers. These aren’t the kind of depictions she would want.

Just when you think that the bottom is sinking in the Diana heritage industry there is something new. 

Next year will see the release of an ‘explosive new memoir’ by Lee Sansum, a bodyguard who served as Dodi al Fayed’s protection team and ‘also had to protect Princess Diana’.

Before you ask the obvious, it appears that it was only by a stroke of fate that he wasn’t in the car on the night Diana died. His book will provide ‘fresh insight’ on that tragic night in Paris, despite the fact he wasn’t there.

It is endless. It is endless. Diana The Musical has a great heart, but there are also scenes of dubious good tastes. 

She visits Aids patients and sings to them. Later she wears a revenge outfit to upstage her husband, referred to as her ‘F*** You Dress’. What?

As I sat in the darkness of the stalls, this one-dimensional portrayal of mean girl Diana was completely unrecognisable. It was even laughable. But the audience couldn’t get enough.

Some were in tears after the show, while others were confused. “Wait! What? You mean she died?’ One young woman was on her way out. Rachel Siegel, a theatre student, told me that she loves learning through music and art.

Did she really believe what she learned tonight? She nodded.

Elisabeth Adkins, a New Jersey resident, had a different perspective. She says, “I am in the exact same circle of life as Diana.” “We are the same age and we married in the exact same year to the powerful men who cheated upon us.” I identify with her.

Perhaps that is the truth. People can either identify with Princess Diana or project an indulgent view onto her. Jeanna de Waal, a magazine interviewer, stated that she believed Diana would enjoy it and that William and Harry would watch it.

She explained that she had viewed YouTube clips “over and over” to help her portray the princess. 

Kristen Stewart stated that she was inspired by Dianas, real and imagined, as well as her obsession with The Crown.

All these Dianas, present and past, are whirling along on a carousel full of fantasy and fable, helping to create all the fake Dianas. In this royal hall full of mirrors, something is cracking. And it’s not the Princess Of Wales.