Gird your loins, and put on your finest pair of Jimmy Choos for this one. ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ is being adapted for the stage. And not only that, it’s set to be a musical too. But if that’s not enough to set your pulse racing, this certainly will. The score is being composed by none other than Sir Elton John himself. ‘That’s all.’
In February 2003, the world unknowingly entered a cultural shift. Lauren Weisberger released her novel ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, a chick-lit satire on the fashion industry, based on her real-life experiences as the assistant of Vogue editor-in-chief Anna (‘Nuclear’) Wintour. After spending 6 months on the New York Times bestseller list, it’s no surprise that a film adaptation was soon in the works. And in 2006, the comedy-drama movie went on to become an instant cult-classic, with particular praise garnered for Meryl Streep’s iconic performance. But after the initial hype, it all seemed to die down. Weisberger later went on to release a sequel novel titled ‘Revenge Wears Prada’ in 2013, only for it to receive mixed to low reviews. Failing to compete with the hype of its predecessor, it seemed the fictional fashion world was a cultural phenomenon that would never be repeated.
That is, until 2017 — when Broadway producer Kevin McCollum announced that a musical adaptation was in the works. With the combined masterminds of Kate Wetherhead (writer), Elton John (music) and Shaina Taub (lyrics), the musical is surely set to be a success. Although, admittedly, the production has by no means been seamless. With rewrites and Covid-related delays, coupled with the fact that Elton John admitted the musical is “Not Ready”, it may yet take some time before we get to see the show under the spotlight. For now, then, we’ll just have to wait, chained to our desks, until those box office tickets finally get released.
But for all my glowing optimism, there will be some who do not share my sentiments. A bestselling book, a cult classic movie, an Oscar-nominated performance by Meryl Streep — these are some very large shoes to fill. The simple fact remains that ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ is a globally-adored commercial success that, if ruined in any way, is set to receive a lot of backlash. There is a lot at stake.
And there is also the possibility that some people simply do not want a musical — in fear that it might ‘spoil things’. Whilst I certainly wouldn’t go that far, I’d be the first to admit that not everything needs to be, nor should be, adapted into a musical. In fact, I had the misfortune of watching some pretty disastrous ones at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe festival, which almost made me lose faith in the genre altogether.
But having said all that, there are plenty of examples of high-quality musical adaptations of popular movies, that continue to exceed audience expectations. Audience Choice Award Winner, ‘Pretty Woman: The Musical’, after a record-breaking run on Broadway, is now set for a global tour. We also have ‘Mean Girls’, touring all across North America after receiving several nominations for the 2018 Tony Awards. It just goes to show, film-to-musical adaptations aren’t necessarily doomed from the start. But they do, nonetheless, have a lot more pressure to succeed.
It’ll certainly be a challenge; but it’s a challenge that I think the creative team are more than capable of fulfilling. And whilst it is, admittedly, moving at a glacial pace, we seem to be in the final stretch now. Fans will surely not have long to wait before ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ comes to a theatre near you.
Feature image: Castorly Stock on Pexels.