Broadway in Chicago Presents THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA Review – High End Fashion Takes the Stage

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We are a little into the second act, and we know Andy Sachs’ trip to Paris Fashion Week is approaching. As she sings about these next steps and what they might mean, we see her take a step forward with her suitcase. To this point, the set design is primarily projections of New York, as well as a giant scaffolding structure – the legs of which look like they could represent a city bridge or something like it. This scaffolding is immobile, with other furniture pieces moving around it.  You too might find your jaw drop when Andy takes her step forward, as the set is revealed as a giant transformer. The giant legs of the bridge start to slant inward towards each other, as two other horizontal components come down to meet them. Slowly we see the Eiffel Tower form before our eyes – complete with projections of Paris to carry the image over the top.

Much like this Paris reveal, you too might feel that the design takes the play’s theme of rising and reaching new heights and soars similarly inviting surprise and awe from beginning to end.

The Pre-Broadway Trail of The Devil Wears Prada

With music by Elton John, lyrics by Shaina Taub, and book by Kate Weatherhead, the new musical is a modern adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada – first a 2003 novel by Lauren Weisberger, and later a famous 2006 film. The story follows Andy Sachs (Taylor Iman Jones), a 22-year-old writer fresh out of college and ready to start her career in New York. After countless rejections, she finally lands a position as the Second Assistant to Miranda Priestly (Beth Leavel) at Runway – one that she quickly realizes could be a lot more intense than she ever expected. Fashion was never a concern to Andy before, but if she ever wants to reach the next point in her career, she must catch up fast.

For those familiar with the source material, you may even recognize some of the more iconic moments – including Miranda’s scathing comment during Andy’s interview: “You have no style or sense of fashion… no, no. That wasn’t a question.” This scene, among many others, elicited quite the cheer from the Opening Night crowd. In the midst of these many famous moments, the boppy pop score features hits including I Mean Business, What’s Right for Me, Suddenly Seen, The Devil Wears Prada, and Dress You Up.

Broadway in Chicago Version Adapts to Modern Times

Directed by Anna D. Shapiro, this adaptation appropriately carries the story into the modern moment, in this writer’s view – even adding nuance to some of the more troubling plot points in the film. Fans will likely remember one of the major conflicts in the story being that between Andy and her boyfriend, Nate Angstrom (Michael Tacconi). As Andy starts to increasingly prioritize her job, Nate does not always take it so well. In this adaptation, Wetherhead’s book aims for empathy of both sides, giving u  a little more understanding to Nate’s character, inviting more sympathy as we watch their relationship navigate the rough terrain.

At a key moment, Miranda unexpectedly asks Andy to attend a work function, which would make her late to Nate’s new tasting at his restaurant. We watch Andy and Nate have this realization together on a night out, noticing yet again that her job must come first. Nate asks their friends to give them some space, leaving them alone with the soft echoes of the bar’s music and chatter. The stage is fairly dark, with all focus on the couple. In a soft, intimate way, Nate takes Andy’s hands, letting her know that he would understand if she cannot attend the tasting. All he asks is that she let him know rather than make the false promise. Andy pleads with him to believe her, and full of doubt, he walks away, leaving Andy alone on stage. This was a moment when the Opening Night audience vocalized their reaction to this heartbreak loudly.

While the story engages us in Andy’s struggle to figure out her priority a she pushes for success while seeing her relationships suffer along the way, The Devil Wears Prada is also very much a show about fashion. Costume Designer Arianne Phillips does not disappoint, in this reviewer’s opinion. Particularly as seen in the showstopping number, Dress You Up (with stellar vocals from Javier Muñoz as Nigel Owens), the musical is filled with a never-ending runway of top-of-the-line styles.

Jaw-dropping design and a stand-out cast make The Devil Wears Prada a night of fun. Especially if you have fond memories of the 2006 film, this is the musical for you.

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CAST:

Beth Leavel as Miranda Priestly, Taylor Iman Jones as Andy Sachs, Javier Muñoz as Nigel Owens, Christiana Cole as Lauren Hunter, Megan Masako Haley as Emily Charlton, Tiffany Mann as Kayla Ward, Michael Tacconi as Nate Angstrom, and Christian Thompson as Christian Thompson.

Ensemble: Kyle Brown, JoJo Carmichael, Olivia Cipolla, Tyrone Davis, Jr., Audrey Douglass, Hannah Douglass, Madison Fendley, Cailen Fu, Michael Samarie George, Henry Gottfried, Marya Grandy, Jessie Hooker-Bailey, Liana Hunt, Amber Jackson, Chris Jarosz, Carlos A. Jimenez, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Anthony Murphy, Jim Ortlieb, Johnathan Rice, Sawyer Smith, Terrance Spencer, and CJ Tyson.

CREATIVE TEAM:

Tony, Grammy and Academy Award winner Elton John, Tony Award winning director Anna D. Shapiro, with lyrics by singer-songwriter Shaina Taub, and a book by Kate Wetherhead, music supervision by Nadia DiGiallonardo, and choreography by James Alsop. Costume design by Academy Award-nominated costume designer Arianne Phillips, scenic and media design by Christine Jones (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and Brett Banakis (The Cher Show), lighting design by Olivier and Tony Award-winning lighting designer Paule Constable, sound design by Nevin Steinberg (Hadestown, Hamilton) and orchestrations by Grammy Award-winning music producer, songwriter, and composer Giles Martin.

WHEN:

Thru August 21, 2022

Tuesdays at 7:30pm
Wednesdays at 2:00pm and 7:30pm
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 2:00pm and 8:00pm
Sundays at 2:00pm

WHERE:

James M. Nederlander Theatre
24 W. Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601

TICKETS:

$33+

For more information visit the Broadway in Chicago website.

Photos: Daniel Boczarski/Getty

Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago.

Lauren Katz

About the Author: Lauren Katz

Lauren Katz is a freelance director and dramaturge, and new to the Chicago Theatre Scene. She recently moved from Washington DC, where she worked with Mosaic Theater Company of DC in Company Management, as well as directed around town with various theaters.

Click here to read more Picture this Post stories by Lauren Katz.

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