La Jolla Playhouse picks Broadway’s Jeanna de Waal to play title role in world-premiere musical ‘Diana’


“Diana” has crowned its princess: La Jolla Playhouse is announcing today that Jeanna de Waal will play the late Diana, Princess of Wales, in the theater’s world-premiere musical about the U.K. royal icon.

The British actress’ credits include two Tony Award-winning Broadway shows: “Kinky Boots” and “American Idiot.” She also originated roles in the regional productions of two musicals that went on to Broadway: “Finding Neverland” and “Waitress.”

More to the point, de Waal originated the role of Diana in a 2017 developmental reading of the Playhouse piece at Vassar College’s Powerhouse Theatre.

“For this iconic role, we were looking for someone who could portray Princess Diana’s incredible warmth and poise, along with her deep inner resolve to forge her own identity in the highly controlled environment of the royal family,” said Playhouse artistic chief Christopher Ashley, who is directing the show.

“A rising star on Broadway, British actress Jeanna de Waal embodies all these traits and more, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have her on board as we develop this extraordinary new musical at the Playhouse.”

De Waal’s additional stage credits include off-Broadway’s “Orwell in America” and MCC Theatre’s “Carrie.” She also starred as Glinda in the national tour of “Wicked,” and played Janet in the Old Globe’s 2011 production of “Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show.” On TV, de Waal plays the recurring role of Sophia in the Netflix/Marvel series “Iron Fist.”

“Diana” explores the life and times of the former Diana Spencer, who acquired worldwide fame after marrying Prince Charles in 1981, a union that would wind up famously troubled.

The princess’ death, in a 1997 Paris car accident, sparked worldwide mourning.

The Playhouse musical take on her story is by the Tony-winning “Memphis” team of Ashley, writer-lyricist Joe DiPietro and composer-lyricist David Bryan, with choreography by longtime collaborator Kelly Devine.

The production runs Feb. 19 to March 31, 2019, in the Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Theatre.

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Twitter: @jimhebert