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What did the critics think of The Devil Wears Prada musical?

The show has opened in Chicago

Taylor Iman Jones and the company
© Joan Marcus

The musical version of The Devil Wears Prada opened to critics for the first time last night, and the results were... interesting. If you can imagine the cynical, unimpressed face of Meryl Streep's magazine editor Miranda Priestly, that's the general sort of vibe that emerged.

Our sister site TheaterMania is more optimistic than some, with Elton John's tunes getting a bit of a thumbs up: "His music here is thoroughly pleasant and tuneful mainstream pop-rock, very Elton John-ish in the best sense as orchestrated by Giles Martin, with a few surprises such as a patter song for fearsome editor Miranda Priestly (Beth Leavel), some jazz licks in the show's only romantic number, and a touch of soul in the big ballad, "What Do I Want for Me?"

But a general banality seems to waft through the production: "The Devil Wears Prada, the Musical lacks the imagination to innovate, or to veer away from the set storyline of the 2006 film or Lauren Weisberger's 2003 source novel. This may delight legions of movie fans who may flock to the show (along with fashionistas) — the producers almost certainly are counting on this — but it makes for a mundane, uninspired show in the emotional sense, despite plenty of visual dazzle."

The knives were drawn more voraciously by other critics – the Chicago Tribune labelled the show a "bland and hesitant new musical version". They're not just angry, they're disappointed to see such a "huge satirical opportunity" that, while "reasonably entertaining" still has "a lot more work to be done" if it is ever to reach Broadway.

The company
© Joan Marcus

The review went on: "Neither of the two leads, played by Beth Leavel and Taylor Iman Jones, have enough of their own distinct style and, weirdly, the show blows right past the big switcheroo in the movie when the geeky Andy reinvents herself as a stylist of high couture...Notwithstanding a knockout ensemble of dancers, the show needs to be funnier, smoother and to move far more quickly."

The Tribute was less enthused about the music: "Elton John has by my count five very solid songs here, including "Dress Your Way Up," a lively act two dance number, and a very touching ballad about the relationship of fashion and the gay community for Nigel, the betrayed underling played by Javier Muñoz. But the piece needs three or four more; neither lead really gets to showcase what they can do."

But the real stinker came from the New York Post in a one-star tirade.

"Call the Fashion Police. The alarmingly un-fun and sluggish show with a score by Elton John and Shaina Taub is a dud about duds, and the worst screen-to-stage move in recent memory...Prada" was never a deep movie. Streep was sensational and elevated what she was handed. What the stage show needed to do was build an intoxicating world of New York fashion, let us inhabit that exclusive club and give us a chic good time."

"Devil Wears Prada musical is a haute mess", they conclude. We wait to see what the show does with its development and whether it'll hit the Broadway stage.