Princess Diana and Michael Jackson present new biographical musicals

Just before the pandemic, I ambivalently attended a performance of “ Tina: The Tina Turner Musical . “I knew a few Tina Turner songs an...


Just before the pandemic, I ambivalently attended a performance of “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. “I knew a few Tina Turner songs and was vaguely aware of her marriage to the abusive Ike Turner. I barely knew her global stardom and was skeptical of the depth that a biographical musical could offer.

Although I had qualms about the show – especially the depictions of violence – I left the theater feeling exuberant. I squeezed in towards the end of what turned out to be essentially a post-show gig, but I clung to the image of Adrienne warren, like Turner, on stage.

What resonated with me was her spectacular star power – what most people would call presence. That’s always what attracts me to Broadway productions about iconic characters: how impersonating an actor can also be a way to showcase one’s own star quality.

Whether or not the show lives up to the legend, however, is often another story.

With Broadway’s resurrection this fall will come another handful of imitations to test the hypothesis. From November 2, we will see Jeanne de Waal like the Princess of Wales in “Diana”, who, thanks to her style, her charisma and, ultimately, her tragic death, has become a mythical figure.

Diana is once again at the center of the cultural conversation, whether in “The crown“; as a shadow figure in the royal drama between Buckingham Palace and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle; or in the upcoming “Spencer” biopic, with Kristen Stewart in the title role. (Naomi Watts also played the role, in the 2013 film “Diane.”)

When the musical first aired at La Jolla Playhouse, critics noted how de Waal nailed Diana’s coquetry, although the character’s ballads (music and lyrics by Tony Award winners David Bryan and Joe DiPietro) lean towards unrestrained seriousness. And despite de Waal’s performance, the show has come under fire for coming through so quickly through so many moments of a shortened life that the emotional impact has been blunted.

Will “Diana” conquer the hearts of audiences on Broadway? And what impact the Netflix recording of the show, which will be available to stream ahead of theatrical release, do they have any prospects for live production? As someone who has eaten “The Crown” (especially Emma Corrin’s performance as the princess), I can’t wait to find out.

Also in November, Lincoln Center Theater “Flying Over Sunset” will bring beloved Hollywood man Cary Grant to life in Tony Yazbeck’s tap dance person.

The musical, with a score by Tom Kitt and Michael Korie, imagines Grant; playwright and politician Clare Boothe Luce; and novelist Aldous Huxley sharing an acid trip to 1950s California. (All three were public about experimenting with LSD, but their cosmic connection is a product of writer-director James Lapine’s screenplay.)

“He was one of the most famous Hollywood movie stars of all time,” Yazbeck said of Grant in a video preview for the show. “When you are offered this, you have to rise to that level, but also put your own stamp on it. “

He seems poised to succeed, and transforming Grant (a child acrobat) into a former tap dancer plays on his strengths. Yazbeck already exudes charm; a well-ironed suit, a classic side sweep and the ability to dance should allow her to do more than emulate the beloved movie star.

Then it’s Michael Jackson’s turn.

“MJ the Musical”, with staging and choreography by Christopher Wheeldon and a book by Lynn Nottage, begins performances on December 6th.

Like “Diana” and “Flying Over Sunset”, he was delayed by the pandemic. But this show faced further upheavals when Ephraim Sykes, the Tony-nominated “Ain’t Too Proud” star has stepped down from the title role.

The producers are still promising 25 King of Pop hits, and you should expect to see that cherry red “Thriller” jacket and dazzling glove. But now it’s up to the unknown for the most part Myles Frost to bring this instantly recognizable genius of voice and dance to life.

The musical as a biography is a form of challenge. How do you associate pop hits from an existing catalog with important life events without downplaying the drama or underestimating the songs?

Michael Jackson’s life, of course, poses its own set of challenges. What will the script do with the allegations of abuse by this megastar, which have tarnished his reputation without dulling the affection for his music?

And will the qualities that make Myles Frost special shine when he plays Michael Jackson? For “MJ” to be successful, the performer’s individual flair must not be overwhelmed by that of the icon.

There’s no shortage of on-screen biopics – two about Aretha Franklin have been released this year alone. But they don’t attract me like the stage equivalents do.

The scene feels more candid about his masquerade. No matter how precisely an actor playing Michael Jackson can walk on the moon singing “Billie Jean,” the immediacy of your interaction with him in, say, a sold-out show on a Saturday night, forces you to sit down. in the Strange Valley: isn’t the Michael you know, of course, but the real-time likeness – and dissimilarity – both showcases fame and reveals the performer’s talents.

What emerges is a hybrid, an approximation of a person who takes into account the public image – legend and myth – reflected through the prism of experience, understanding and, finally, the ability to an actor.

Here’s another way to think about it: I recently accompanied a friend to a locksmith booth where we were told in advance that the copied keys would not look exactly like the originals.

When I think of imitators coming this fall, I think of his new set of keys – perfectly flawed clones. Their look is different, their shape is different, but the mechanics still work. It’s all about a job well done.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Princess Diana and Michael Jackson present new biographical musicals
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