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'Diana: The Musical' star reveals how she prepared to play the late royal

"Diana: The Musical" star Jeanna de Waal opened up about playing Princess Diana in an interview with TODAY.
"Diana: The Musical" star Jeanna de Waal opened up about what it was like playing Princess Diana.
"Diana: The Musical" star Jeanna de Waal opened up about what it was like playing Princess Diana.Netflix
/ Source: TODAY

"Diana: The Musical," which highlights the moments that made Princess Diana adored across the world and follows her marriage to Prince Charles, debuts on Netflix and Broadway this fall.

The musical stars Jeanna de Waal, a British actor who has also performed in "Kinky Boots" and "Wicked." In an interview with TODAY, de Waal talked about her journey to securing the role of Princess Diana, her hopes for the Broadway performance and her favorite scenes from the show.

Jeanna de Waal said playing Princess Diana was "a match made in heaven."Netflix

After de Waal got the part, she described it as a "match made in heaven." De Waal has been working on the project for over three years, as the show went through workshops to decide the best ways to showcase the legacy of the late Princess Diana.

To prepare for the role, de Waal watched YouTube videos. "I don't mean the ones where she's doing, like, famous interviews, but I mean the ones where you can just watch her in the background, doing her thing and you can really catch someone as off guard as they could be," she said.

In addition to watching videos, de Waal also practiced Gyrotonic, a unique system of exercise that helps promote good posture, to portray the regal demeanor of Princess Diana.

"When we started to gear up for Broadway, I did a lot of training of a thing called Gyrotonics. I did it literally an hour a day, five times a week for like three months, and that was to sort of build in that department and the way she carries herself in a very real way," said Waal.

Jeanna de Waal shared how she prepared to play Princess Diana.Netflix

The Broadway show was initially set to open in 2020 but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The original Broadway cast filmed the entire musical in Longacre Theatre for Netflix in 2020.

"It's so unique that we have this. I'm so thrilled to be a part of this grand experiment of debuting theater pieces to the world before theater audiences. I'm thrilled. I'm so excited about it all," said de Waal.

On returning to Broadway in November, de Waal said, "I think to do the show, it's going to feel like the most incredible celebration. People are then choosing to come and spend their evening with us and see this rock concert live and enjoy the songs live with us. So it will feel even more special that people are spending their evening with us."

De Waal's favorite moments from the show include the end song of the musical, which is a solo for the most part. "​It's also an amazing thrill to open the show. And then there's a song in Act II that I love singing because it's when she takes her power and plots her revenge," she said.

Another significant element of the musical is the costume changes that show the most iconic outfits from Diana's life.

The musical highlights the moments that made Princess Diana adored across the world.Netflix

De Waal shared her favorite costume from the musical. "The John Travolta dress," she said, referring to a gown Princess Diana wore while dancing with John Travolta at a 1985 dinner at the White House.

"It wasn't originally part of the lineup, but they decided they needed an extra dress when we were out in the foyer. So the costume ladies banged it out in, like, three days, and it fits like a glove, and I wear it for maybe seven seconds," she said.

In anticipation of the musical's release on Netflix, de Waal shared her hopes for the response of viewers.

"I'm hoping that people find it wildly entertaining," she said. "I'm hoping that people love the music and want to listen to the music on repeat. And I hope people take away just how much love and passion the creative team had for Diana in making this."

"Diana: The Musical" is set to stream on Netflix starting on Oct. 1 and run on Broadway starting Nov. 2 at Longacre Theatre.