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The Distancing Diaries: ‘Diana’ Star Jeanna de Waal Brings Theater to Your Living Room With Broadway Weekends

March 23, 2020 by Suzy Evans
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Jeanna de Waal (Photographed by Jason Goodrich)

Welcome to The Distancing Diaries, where we chat with members of the theater community about how they’re staying creative and inspired in the time of social separation. While we can’t go to a show (for now), we hope that by sharing stories from the field, you’ll find comfort, solace, and maybe a few new ideas of how to pass the time. 

Before Broadway announced its shutdown on March 12, Jeanna de Waal was just your average Broadway star in previews for a new musical about to open on Broadway. De Waal stars as the titular Princess Diana in “Diana: The Musical, David Brian and Joe DiPietro’s show about the people’s princess.

“In a blink of an eye, my schedule changed from mornings filled with press, afternoons filled with rehearsals, and evenings filled with performing to packed out audiences ….to sitting on my couch with a TV dinner on my lap,” she says.

So she started pouring her energies into her side hustle: Broadway Weekends, a series of workshops with Broadway and West End stars. While some of the in-person events had to be cancelled, de Waal brought the fun online. Find out how you can join the classes and more in our conversation with de Waal below!

What is keeping you inspired during this time? Is there anything specific that you’re turning to for inspiration? 
I have a baby… not that kind… but a small startup (which began as a labor of love) called Broadway Weekends. We connect theater lovers to Broadway performers through theater camps. The start of the week was rough as we had to cancel many of our upcoming events. However, after talking to friends — many of whom are sitting at home while their shows are dark — we rallied our energies. This week, we will begin hosting FREE online musical theater classes led by Broadway and West End performers. We hope to bring some fun activity, and most of all community to people during this challenging time. (Editor’s Note: Join the Facebook group Broadway Weekends at Home to participate.)

How are you staying creative?
I am a hobby enthusiast and I usually get obsessed with them. I studied and took the GMAT, a business school entrance exam, in 2018 “just for fun”! Although I have been through many phases, my creative energies are now completely absorbed with Broadway Weekends.

Jeanna de Waal as Princess Diana in “Diana.” (Photographed by Evan Zimmerman/MurphyMade)

How are you practicing self-care?
I started the “Diana” rehearsal process in the best shape I had been in for years, as I spent the latter half of 2019 working out with a trainer five days a week! It is so important that I maintain my stamina during this down time. On rainy days, I have been working out in the stairway of my building —desperate times!

What is something (or a few things) great that you’ve watched recently?
Generational Wealth, High Maintenance, Love is Blind

What is something that you’ve enjoyed reading?
10 Options Strategies To Know – Investopedia. 

What are you listening to?
RITMO – Black Eyed Peas

Have you gotten into cooking or baking?
I never really cook. I scrambled eggs one morning! 

How are you staying physically and vocally ready to return to your show? 
By finding ways to get a little fresh air and sunshine every day, as this really lifts my sprits. I’m also engaging in some very lengthy shower singing sessions, as I have no evening show to save my voice for! 

How do you think people can support theater and the arts community and engage with it during this time? 
They can join us for Broadway Weekends online classes! No ability restrictions, and all are welcome!