Sorry Streaming Services, You Can’t Beat the Magic of Live Performances, and ‘Diana the Musical’ Proves It

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Jeanna De Waal stuns as Prince Diana Spencer in the Broadway retelling of the famous royal’s life.

By Zoejane Ostebo, Extras Editor

“Flashbulbs fill the air. Frenzy fills the night.” Those magical first lines of Diana the Musical were never able to grace the Broadway stage in 2020. The show was originally set to debut on March 31, but was ultimately pushed back due to the pandemic. In wake of this, Netflix decided to release a filmed version of the musical a month and a half before it was to take the stage. 

Now, this probably comes at no surprise for anyone, but the film just cannot beat the live performance. It’s hard to compare a Broadway show that was intended to be seen in person to the Netflix-made version, but Diana still proves a point. To lose live performances of any type to technology would be to lose some of the most unforgettable, impactful stories out there. Film has adapted over the years to display wonderful movies and shows that have built pop culture as a whole, but we can’t forget where it started: on a stage. 

For some context, Diana the Musical tells the devastatingly inspiring story of Princess Diana Spencer through her royal role as she battled demons inside of her public and private life. She was known throughout the world as a highly beloved princess, an icon of fashion and a generous role model that used her privileged position to help those in need without any boundaries. But she was also human, dealing with mental health issues yet never afraid to show her weaknesses to the world. 

The musical focuses heavily on the damage of secrets and lies along with how “the stories that girls are told to believe, are not the stories girls should believe.” There isn’t a perfect Prince Charming, a storybook ending, or at the very least, a struggle-free life. Hardships will come along and there’s nothing we can do to stop them. What we can do is rise above them, take the hand we’re dealt and run with it. At the end of the day, we can conquer whatever is thrown at us, with no doubt about it. 

This message will forever have a place in my heart, with Princess Diana as a role model of mine. She truly was a wonderfully inspirational person whose heart and bravery should never be forgotten. What she did for those in need all while struggling with those closest to her shows how selfless of a person she was. She was someone we should all aspire to be. 

To have her story encased in the plastic boxes of our TV screens when it was intended to rule the stage is an utter injustice. Diana the Musical was an unforgettable experience, something that just didn’t feel the same after watching it through a screen. The unbelievable performance of every actor didn’t shine the way they did in person. 

The way the world stops with just a step on stage, time freezing for a moment as Jeanna De Waal graces the audience with a smile. Nothing will ever replace the music blasting from the orchestra pit, syncing every heartbeat to its mesmerizing rhythm. The lights, flashing through the audience, illuminated star-struck faces for just a moment before flicking to the next. The raw, unedited performance of talented actors, screaming their lungs out without missing a beat rendered me speechless. It is simply irreplaceable.  

No screen could ever recreate the immersiveness of live performances, and we’d be foolish to forget this. So many out there are truly gifted in the ways of art, and it’d be disrespectful to contain their hard work to the pause-and-play of film. This is not even mentioning the editing process, as so many powerful performances have been cut down when they truly deserve every second. To put your heart and soul into a role just to have it picked apart and pieced together is simply not the same. 

Now, none of this is to say that filmed performances are any less than those performed live. I’ve been impacted by many shows and movies alike, and even the acting in some video games resonates in my mind to this day. But to think that the filmed versions of performances that were created to be seen live are better than the original is to forget the magic of live shows. 

We mustn’t lose the beauty of the stage to our screens, or we’d lose the true talent of many. It’s vital that we still make a point for art such as this instead of resorting to the easy entertainment that has been made popular by streaming services. The human experience cannot be encapsulated within a screen forever.