Early in the first act of The Devil Wears Prada, The Musical, recent college graduate Andy is a grumpy swagger as Miranda Priestley (Vogue’s veiled take on Anna Winter). I am working as a personal assistant for Miranda exposes Andy’s cookie-cutter idealism in a deliciously vicious monologue that includes the line, “Who has handbag time when democracy is at stake?” increase.
It’s a musical soul conundrum, now in its pre-Broadway world premiere at the Nederlander Theatre, and a way to update the story. So Among other things, toxic bosses are no longer accepted, and fashion claims to be more inclusive. Throw in a handful of modern buzzwords, and Miranda’s takedown on Andy’s awakening is driven by wordplay rather than worldview. More notably, Andy is now black and Nigel’s sexual orientation is open rather than implied. Even more poignantly, Javier Manzos’ Nigel, now happily married, sang his story of how fashion saved him from being a bullied gay boy in Kalamazoo. I’m here.
It’s one of the better songs, but alas, “The Devil Wears Prada” is stuck in theatrical purgatory. Most surprisingly, Elton John and Shayna’s music by Taub is not memorable. This is a problem with any musical, but it’s a big one when the creator’s iconic status raises expectations for the stratosphere. Most of the strong songs, like the famous “The Devil Wears Prada,” which closes out the first act with an epic ball based on the Met Gala, are EDM-driven and perfectly suited for a fashion show, but not exactly Not of show tune songs. Nor, unfortunately, will the show tunene “Dress Your Way Up” be a hit.
The book has more problems than music, and problems trace back to the original novel. This material is perfect for satire on vanity culture, a theme that is more prevalent than ever. Runway Magazine’s Office crackles with her director Anna Shapiro’s vision, a constant fashion show full of wit, color and energy. But the story, rooted in Modlin’s morality tale of Andy and her friends, is earnest, striving, but dull, setting their scenes in a dark and drab palette in pool halls and dingy places. emphasizes the tone that the production design enhances.An apartment with a song that sinks in as soon as you sing it.
I’ve always been frustrated by the feminist subtext, or lack thereof, of this story. She tortures her men, but only in pursuit of her excellence. She does what it takes to survive in a world that plots against her. So when Andy, who has been on his professional growth journey thus far, dumps Miranda and returns to her naive idea of her “real self”, none of it is true. As Andy said before the story suddenly collapsed at the end, Miranda is a “force of nature” and deserves respect. should be seen as
Despite these problems, novels and movies were big hits, so this musical may follow suit. A lot of things work very well here, starting with the direction. Former Steppenwolf her artistic director Anna Shapiro (who won a Tony Award for “August: Osage Her County”) may be directing her first musical, but her Experience and intelligence as a director keep it a secret. The show is full of finesse.
The production design by Christine Jones and Brett Banakis is remarkable, from the simple use of photographic proof sheets and full-frame slides to the transition from the New York bridge to the Eiffel Tower, with choreography (James Alsop) and Costume designer (Arianne Phillips) takes the audience to a front row seat at the greatest fashion show of all time.
Taylor Iman Jones puts his heart into Andy as much as anyone can, but Beth Leavell manages to turn Miranda into a three-dimensional character regardless of what’s on the page.
In fact, I could see Miranda and Nigel saying their lines all night long. Call me obsolete if wit has lost its place in the modern world.
James M. Nederlander Theater, 24 West Randolph, through August 21st. Buy tickets on BroadwayinChicago.com