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Review: The Devil Wears Prada musical opens in Chicago, not yet ready because of its runway spotlight

The reason why Lauren Weisbergers satirical memoir The Devil Wears Prada became famous had not been because of the juicy schadenfreude-y movie with Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. Its because Weisberger was self-aware enough to note that the thirst for power included herself.

On the main one hand, she took out her knives and dissected the terrifying tastemaker Miranda, a stand-in for Anna Wintour, a bourgeois feminist survivor with veiled vulnerability. On another, she knew that the act of writing the memoir meant that her alter-ego Andy was no not the same as Miranda, despite the fact that she shrouded her hunger for the spotlight in virtue signaling and that obnoxiously righteous, Brooklyn-style cocktail of stubble-faced chefs and Twitter warriors. Weisberger knew that ambitious 20-somethings in need of glam media jobs will ice their elders quicker than they are able to say I’m holding space for you personally. She implicated herself and reaped her just rewards.

So, needless to say, did Streep and Hathaway, immensely skilled players both. However the problem with the bland and hesitant new musical version of The Devil Wears Prada, which includes a book by Kate Wetherhead and a score by Elton John and that opened Sunday night in a Chicago tryout beneath the direction of Anna D. Shapiro, is that it have not yet found the guts to check out that same track, notwithstanding the huge satirical opportunity. More specifically, Weisbergers sexy, self-aware satire has been given a moralistic tack, which Miranda would hate a lot more cerulean sweaters.

The cast of the musical “The Devil Wears Prada” at the Nederlander Theatre in Chicago. (Joan Marcus photo / HANDOUT)

For certain, the show is fairly entertaining. But especially given all of the COVID considerations, it really is far enough from finished concerning not need deserved so many coastal media judges in the Nederlander Theatre Sunday night, laying waste to the idea of the pre-Broadway tryout (very Miranda). As the saying goes atlanta divorce attorneys Zoom meeting: there’s a many more work to be achieved.

Job one may be the addition of more wit and irreverence to Wetherheads book and Shaina Taubs lyrics. The films appeal was predicated on two fundamental human pleasures: seeing gorgeous humans model stunning fashion artistry and watching people behave very badly with techniques that the viewer could not dare. It had been definitely not about learning moral lessons.

The show first must deliver a far more legitimate runway experience: Arianne Phillips costumes are fine as theatrical design but I suspect the audience because of this will expect a thing that feels similar to the task of actual fashion houses. Neither of both leads, played by Beth Leavel and Taylor Iman Jones, have sufficient of these own distinct style and, weirdly, the show blows right at night big switcheroo in the movie once the geeky Andy reinvents herself as a stylist of high couture. Act 2 is stronger in this regard it can help a lot once the show leaves NY and hits Paris but its still a significant issue.

Taylor Iman Jones and the cast of the musical “The Devil Wears Prada” at the Nederlander Theatre in Chicago. (Joan Marcus photo / HANDOUT)

The wit part is simply as important. Notwithstanding a knockout ensemble of dancers, the show must be funnier, smoother also to move a lot more quickly, considering that Miranda is really a whirling dervish. For a good example of what realy works and what will not, you will need only go through the Act 1 close and a scene early in Act 2. The former can be an on-the-nose, red-devil fantasia, that is frankly awful, while Act 2 finds its way with an awesome scenic transition from designers Christine Jones and Brett Banakis that finally evokes a number of the La La Land glamour the audience has arrived at see. The currently underscored show is a lot stronger generally for the reason that second act, but its a slow slog to access that time. Everything here must proceed with a lot more confidence and less nervousness.

Both of the leads could, I believe, be excellent. Leavel needs a minumum of one more non-patter song to showcase what she can perform, but she never lacks truth. Appealing as she actually is, Jones must dig deeper into her very own ruthlessness (most of us have a little) to unlock her performance. The main element, needless to say, is that Miranda is definitely right about Andy because she recognizes herself. I fear Wetherhead is an excessive amount of deeply in love with Andy. Time for a few clear-eyed thinking there. This isnt a seminar, its The Devil Wears Prada, for goodness sake.

What we crave from Taubs lyrics is more remove from the book: they often times feel just like restatements of what the characters just said instead of fundamentally emotional experiences. You can view the start of this in a few numbers, and Taub gets the talent if she lets loose. But theres just a start.

Javier Muoz and cast of the musical “The Devil Wears Prada” at the Nederlander Theatre in Chicago. (Joan Marcus photo / HANDOUT)

Elton John has by my count five very solid songs here, including Dress THE RIGHT PATH Up, a lively Act 2 dance number, and an extremely touching ballad concerning the relationship of fashion and the gay community for Nigel, the betrayed underling played by Javier Muoz. However the piece needs 3 or 4 more; neither lead really reaches showcase what they are able to do. And the finish, currently a damp squid, badly needs Johns help.

For Chicago audiences, needless to say, these works happening are always fascinating. The producer Kevin McCollum has, to his credit, offered plenty of opportunity here to artists who’ve not done a significant musical before. But everyone here could do to learn the book again also to better appreciate that is really a piece about people behaving in mercenary ways, attracted to glamour like moths to a flame.

Needless to say, were only on earth for some time, so theres a disagreement for clawing the right path to self-actualization. In any event, we watch most of these characters in the theater since they dare to accomplish what we, the afeard, usually do not. All while looking a lot better than ordinary people.

Reorient around that and Prada includes a shot. It really is, after all, an excellent brand.

Chris Jones is really a Tribune critic.

cjones5@chicagotribune.com

Review: The Devil Wears Prada

When: Through Aug. 21

Where: Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St.

Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Tickets: $25-$95.50 at 800-775-2000 and www.broadwayinchicago.com

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