Jermaine Thomas, II
Focusing on the Good Parts of "Devil Wears Prada: The Musical"
"The Devil Wears Prada: The Musical" renews the classic film from the early 2000s with zillennial* audiences in mind. The musical opened its pre-tryouts in Chicago at the Nederlander Theatre on July 19th. I caught it on August 19th just in time for the final curtain call on August 21st. The musical could have a bright future as it sets sights on Broadway next year. But, you can read almost any other joy-sucking review for the bad stuff! Let’s talk about the positives.
The original film was released in 2004 and found a place in the hearts of millennials entering the workforce. It reflected the aftermath of reaching a goal for most recent college grads, a job after graduation. The ever-relatable story of reaching new highs and soon discovering the lows aren’t far behind. The movie showcases the growing pains that come with professional success, depending on who you’re willing to step on to get it.
The musical does not shy from any of these central themes. They were refreshed for newly graduated zillennials* dealing with the struggles of the health crises exacerbated by political, economic, and environmental crises. While not being the most innovative, the opening number showcases a plight central to my life; job searching. “The Girl for the Job” serves as a connector for anyone like me, who maintained positive self-talk in the face of constant application denials.
The second act song, “In Your Twenties” hits home for me as well. Last year, I had the hardest time adjusting to my partner, Rasheed, working a demanding job. Supporting the discovery of work/life balance for someone else is harder than doing it for yourself. The main barrier is that it’s not your job; it’s not your stress. How do you tell someone else to stop working for a moment? Tell me when you find out! But, as musicals do, “In Your Twenties” makes pulling someone away from their laptop look so easy!
The streaming era has proved that zillennials can repeatedly enjoy movies and tv shows that they are acquainted with. This is proven by the meteoric rise of shows like The Office, Schitt’s Creek, and New Girl after they hit streaming services. That’s the nostalgia that The Devil Wears Prada: The Musical invokes. The musical is filled to the brim with classic lines from the film that my generation has come to love. That makes the musical familiar, like the warm hug of nostalgia.
Does the musical have some things to glam up before taking on New York City? Absolutely. The numbers seem to lack cohesiveness, some of the outfits can give more runway, and I would love to hear more vocal prowess from the leads. But, two things the production that can keep? The costume changes and set design. These two elements both shine in the second act when the musical moves to Paris! Some of that sparkle should undoubtedly be replicated in the first act.
I’ll be looking forward to seeing the changes the production has made once they visit Chicago again after its Broadway premiere.
* Zillennial - the micro-generation born between 1993 and 1998