‘Satan Wears Prada the Musical’ evaluation: a trend and stage fake pas

Now in its world premiere earlier than a deliberate 2023 Broadway opening, “The Satan Wears Prada, The Musical” runs the gamut from mildly diverting to principally egregiously disappointing, the latter being its defining ethos.

Working by Aug. 21 on the Nederlander Theatre, the Elton John-scored tackle the world of excessive trend has its work minimize out for it. For now, this behind-the-scenes story set on the world’s pre-eminent trend journal is extra JCPenney clearance catalog than couture.

“The Satan Wears Prada, the Musical” (ebook by Kate Wetherhead, lyrics by Shaina Taub) is rooted in Lauren Weisberger’s 2003 roman-a-clef about working at a significant trend journal, penned after she did a stint as an assistant to Vogue journal’s infamously exacting chief editor Anna Wintour.

‘The Satan Wears Prada, the Musical’

The novel’s dishy scenes of opulence and overwork spawned the 2006 film model famously starring Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly, editor-in-chief of Runway journal, and Anne Hathaway as Andy Sachs, a brand new rent who believes trend is frivolous and sees Runway as strategy to pay the lease till she will be able to change the world writing about social justice points.

One main downside with director Anna D. Shapiro’s staging of the musical “Prada,” starring Tony Award winner Beth Leavel as Miranda and Taylor Iman Jones as Andy, is its underwhelming sense of trend. Frankly, you’ll see extra inventive silhouettes on any given season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Costume designer Arianne Phillips typically tries to make sparkle or outsized graphic prints atone for unimpressive design, however way more than a little bit of superficial flash is required. Each look — from an ill-tailored purple gown Miranda wears to the workplace to the bulbous, armless, Michelin-man-worthy creations purporting to be cutting-edge Parisian runway couture — seems to be under-budgeted and poorly completed.

We by no means get a way of Runway journal, both. We’re advised — quite a few occasions, in reverent tones — concerning the legends and icons who’ve walked the journal’s halls. However there’s no sense of element or historical past — not a lot as a trend illustration — in Christine Jones or Brett Banakis’ set and media design. The workplace aesthetic is fundamental and generic, the fashions inside resembling arts-and-crafts initiatives with little precise artwork.

Taylor Iman Jones (from left), Javier Munoz and Beth Leavel star in “The Satan Wears Prada, The Musical.”

Extra troublesome, “The Satan Wears Prada, The Musical” feels written by committee, some tackling Gen Z points (there’s a consuming music about “jobs that pay the lease,” and a meaningless jingle about learn how to stay in a single’s 20s), some coping with trend, some tackling the plight of pioneering ladies within the office. None of those parts coalesce right into a compelling story. None is addressed with any specific depth or ingenuity.

Then there’s the music.

The most effective of the dismal music choices is a sung/spoken soliloquy-like quantity from Miranda based mostly on the film’s iconic speech that makes use of a cerulean blue belt to clarify the worldwide social and financial attain of the style trade. In Miranda’s succinct rationalization of trend’s inescapable affect throughout the globe, Leavel delivers an ice age’s price of shade, freezing Andy’s scoffing into silence. Though a lot of it’s spoken reasonably than sung, it’s nonetheless the excessive level of a rating that’s in any other case principally as flat as a newly ironed hem.

The title tune is a head scratcher. Its pulsing insistence that Priestly is definitely a satan in designer duds all however undoes all of the work Leavel has accomplished to point out Miranda as something greater than a one-dimensional, narcissistic elitist. Elton John wrote good scores for “Billy Elliot” and “Aida.” Right here, his music doesn’t additional the story or deepen the characters. Worse, it doesn’t present a single, memorable star-turn for the leads.

Jones and Leavel’s enough performances are bolstered by a supporting solid of characters drawn from the film and the ebook. Runway artwork director Nigel (Javier Munoz) is the quintessential sassy finest buddy, proper right down to a withering aversion for synthetics and a predictable quantity about rising up homosexual in a small, homophobic city. Miranda’s first assistant Emily (Megan Masako Haley) is all high-strung ambition. Andy’s associates and roommates serve principally to deliver up a short plot level about housing insecurity, a problem that’s solved virtually as quickly because it’s spoken of.

Underneath Shapiro’s path, “The Satan Wears Prada, The Musical” makes an attempt to emulate the film’s evenly comedian, considerably acerbic exploration of an trade that’s all glamor and wealth on the surface, one thing a lot messier on the within. She succeeds solely in making a faint copy of a duplicate.

In its present state, “The Satan Wears Prada, The Musical” is a poor knockoff, an affordable flea market bag with a designer label glue-gunned to the liner. Again to the sketchbook!

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