‘Satan Wears Prada’ Evaluation: New Musical With Rating by Elton John
Taking a very respectful and albeit miscalculated strategy to its supply supplies — the 2003 roman à clef novel and the 2006 Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway-starring movie — the brand new musical model of “The Devil Wears Prada,” now making an attempt out in Chicago forward of a projected Broadway run, offers some serviceable leisure however wants a hearty dose of responsible, edgy enjoyable to spice up its delicate pleasures.
At this stage in its growth — having persevered mightily to succeed in its opening after enduring over 20 circumstances of COVID throughout rehearsals and previews — the present boasts an Elton John rating that operates in too restricted a register and a manufacturing from director Anna D. Shapiro (“August: Osage County”) that by no means fairly decides between genuine glamor or a extra theatricalized form, resting proper now in a merely semi-satisfying center.
There’s loads of talent and craft on show right here, notably within the lead performances. Because the younger protagonist Andy Sachs, Taylor Iman Jones (“Head Over Heels”) shows all of the triple-threat potential you can ask for. And as Miranda Priestly (impressed by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour), Beth Leavel reveals her diva-dom towards the top when she sings a deliciously villainous soliloquy.
The guide (by Kate Wetherhead) flows coherently and has moments of wit. The choreography from James Alsop has potential panache, impressed by the sharp, gestural poses of trend modeling. The design work picks up within the second act, notably in a intelligent set transition from Manhattan to Paris. And John’s rating has its moments, offering his pleasing, peppy pop sound amid a honest effort to provide voice to the inside ideas and emotions of the characters.
However the present simply by no means lets free. The style, from Arianne Phillips (the movie “As soon as Upon a Time in Hollywood”), feels neither interval nor modern (the setting has been up to date however unaggressively so). The tameness, alas, most impacts the portrayal of Miranda. The character right here feels imprisoned by muted pantsuits, a wise hairdo and a number of patter songs from John and lyricist Shaina Taub (“Suffs”) that come off as banal recitatives about appointments that want scheduling.
This represents the important thing miscalibration on the present’s core that requires remedying. Sure, certain, that is the story of a younger lady pursuing her desires and dropping her sense of self within the meantime. However to assume that’s what made the guide a bestseller and the film a success is to think about that individuals learn “Playboy” for the articles, or that individuals watch Fox Information for the knowledge. Right here the enchantment stems extra from being giddily appalled at Miranda’s operatic condescension. The one cause Andy is even mildly tolerable in her personal unconscious snobbery is that Miranda treats her so horrifically that we will’t assist however root for her.
One of the memorable scenes from the movie isn’t something aspirational, however when Miranda recounts to Andy why she gave her the job within the first place. “I stated to myself, ‘Go forward, take an opportunity. Rent the good, fats woman.’”
Put that sentiment to music, Mr. John, and we’re going someplace. Proper now, it breezes previous as a uncommon second of forthrightness within the dialogue, simply because the present oddly glosses previous Andy’s spurred-on transformation to trend forwardness with a single costume change throughout a music, “Gown Your Manner Up,” that screams out for extra.
There’s a variety of work wanted to exchange the honest and pretty boring songs concerning the significance of jobs that pay the hire, the unhappiness of dropping friendships, or (from the nice-guy Nigel, performed by Javier Muñoz) the trials of rising up homosexual within the Midwest with songs that categorical the bare ambition, social irresponsibility and joyful artifice of the style business. The title music, which serves because the Act I finale, feedback about these issues however doesn’t really categorical them, coming throughout extra enervating than energizing.
So the query right here is a straightforward one. Can John, Shapiro, et al. — a number of the most proficient artists at work immediately — set niceness apart, and channel their inside Miranda Priestlys?