A much more eloquent review, but same. The musical lacks a point of view, as this review points out. It’s trying to be everything all at once, and as a result, nothing is done well or memorable.
I love musical theater and I’ve seen plenty of adaptations (screen-to-stage and stage-to-screen), and I fully appreciate the tweaks that come with it. Sometimes they make it better, sometimes not, but I never went into this expecting a live-action movie. It just really fell flat. I’d be really curious to know what someone who never saw the movie thought of it—and whether they were confused af or not.
>> my thoughts after seeing it in Chicago in July
I’ve been reading and writing Mirandy fanfiction for a decade. I had such hope—my god, I live on it—for the The Devil Wears Prada: The Musical. Beth Leavel and Elton John were promising.
I went to see it on July 27th, and the TL;DR is that it was supremely disappointing.
The biggest disappointment was in Beth’s portrayal of musical!Miranda. I adore Beth and she was great—but the character should not have been named Miranda Priestly. She came across as a much older woman than Meryl’s movie!Miranda. She had red hair, and it was an orangey, dull red. It felt unstyled. She did not dress sexy at all. Her clothing was loose and almost too big for her, and her skirt suits were longer and looked a bit like a 1940s silhouette. At the Ball, she wore a black and red brocade jacquard long dress with a cape, evoking imagery of a devil. She was loud, a little crass, laughed a lot, and made a lot of exaggerated facial expressions. She seemed to lack any sense of femininity and reminded me more of a Jane Lynch character. She said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” to Andrea at one point. And she sang a song about who you have to screw (or maybe it was “step on”) to stay on top. It was totally and completely jarring.
Several pivotal scenes (to me, anyway) were cut. First, there’s no Book or mention of assistants delivering it to her home each night. Because of that, we miss the scene early on where Andrea interrupts a private moment between Miranda and her husband.
Second, there’s no scene with Miranda and her team at a planning meeting, so a sniffly Emily never interrupts and we don’t get the “incubus of viral plague” comment. (Instead, Emily gets dizzy because she’s doing a celery juice cleanse and that’s why Andrea has to attend the Ball. There’s also a random model who walks into Miranda’s office in a floral dress for the sole purpose of triggering the “Florals? For spring?” comment, and it was totally out of context.)
Third, the Ball itself really isn’t shown. There’s no assistants whispering names to Miranda. Andrea wears a bright yellow 1950s A-line party dress to the Ball. The assistants don’t match dresses. And most importantly, we don’t see Miranda as a sex symbol with all that décolleté on view.
Fourth, because there’s no mention of assistants being in Miranda’s home, Miranda asks Andrea to replace Emily at the Ball, and makes her tell her right away. (Emily is hit by a Prius as she’s running out of the Ball towards her Uber.)
Fifth, because it’s set in the 2020s, there’s no Harry Potter manuscript task. Instead, Miranda needs Andrea to get her and her daughter (Cassidy, who’s old enough to travel to Ibiza on her own) to Marrakesh so that YSL can fit her for a custom caftan. Andrea can’t do this because flights are grounded due to a sandstorm in the region, which sets up a “just a little dust” comment from a disappointed Miranda. Andrea’s redemption moment comes later when Miranda tells Andrea that her daughter called to thank her for surprising her and arranging for the YSL person to come to her for the fitting. Miranda tells Andrea she’s surprising.
Finally, at the end, Andrea doesn’t work for a local newspaper, but instead gets hired to write a tell-all book about her time as Miranda’s assistant. And there’s no sighting of Miranda on the street.
Nate is as much a tool in the musical as in the movie, but he’s much more self-aware in the musical. Andrea’s two friends have a realization while she’s in Paris that they shouldn’t punish her for getting to do cool things with her job; she ends up moving in with them when she returns.
The hotel scene is slightly different. Miranda takes her wedding ring off and puts it in the pocket of her robe while she’s on the phone with Cassidy, trying to get her to join her in Paris. She says something like “come on, it’s only a divorce” to her daughter on the phone, and that’s the only mention of it. Andrea walks in, Miranda silently makes a change on the seating chart and hands it back, and when Andrea sees it, she offers to find Miranda “another plus-one.” Where movie!Andrea gives her that sympathetic, heartbreaking look, musical!Andrea gives her a pep talk about how she’ll come out of this just fine because she’s a “force of nature.” (Miranda later tells Andrea that little speech gave her the idea to screw Nigel and give the Holt job to Jacqueline.) Also, in the hotel scene, Miranda asks Andrea to write her speech for the luncheon.
She’s working on the speech when Christian drags her away to his hotel room, then she goes to finish it in his room, and he tells her that Miranda’s being replaced. After the announcement, Andrea is very very pissed Miranda did that to Nigel. But Nigel doesn’t say, “she’ll pay me back”—instead, he yells at Andrea for being clueless as to how the world works.
The car scene from Paris takes place at one of the tables after the luncheon crowd has left. Miranda tells Andrea what a good writer she is, how impressed she is, and tells her to think about what career she wants next because she’s ready for it. After Miranda leaves, Andrea drops her ringing phone into a glass of water on the table and heads back to New York.
Almost all the iconic lines made it into the musical, but they didn’t evoke the same feelings for me. There’s very little Andrea/Emily interaction, although Emily calls her “Andy-for-short” throughout and I thought that was endearing.
Andrea’s makeover wasn’t that dramatic—her clothes pre-makeover were well-fitted and nice, but looked like a prep school uniform. Again, not the same effect.
Nigel was pretty good. He had some new zingers that were fun. He tells Andrea he’s got a husband when he talks about being in the closet before curating the closet, but that was the only queerness really mentioned.
Andrea and Miranda had little time together. Miranda had very few songs—I don’t count her sing-song listing of commands followed by “that’s all” to be a song. The whole point was Andrea’s story, how she came into her own career…and it was honestly boring. I’ll note that Taylor Iman Jones’s understudy performed the night I saw it, but I don’t think TIJ could have saved it.
The songs were kinda catchy, but twelve hours later, I’ve forgotten all of them. The title theme felt more like chamber music—lots of skulls and dark/red imagery, as if Miranda is a devil from hell? It was weird.
They didn’t do a good job of showing the audience who Miranda the Editor really is. I imagine people who didn’t see the movie or read the book might have been lost. Most of the audience seemed to really enjoy it. A lot of older men there with their wives thought it was hilarious. I was cringing for 95% of it.
My honest opinion: save your money; stick to fanfic.