"All right, everyone! Gird your loins" as a stage musical version of The Devil Wears Prada is set for a world premiere in the Windy City this July as part of the lineup for Broadway in Chicago.
Tony Award winner Beth Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone) plays villainess Miranda Priestly and Head Over Heels cast member Taylor Iman Jones personifies Andrea "Andy" Sachs in the new musical based on a movie that's based on a book. The plot follows a young writer named Andy in New York City where she works for a terrifying boss at a prestigious magazine titled Runway.
The cast and creatives represent all the colors of the LGBTQ+ rainbowon and off stagewith this stylish production. There is music from Tony, Grammy and Academy Award winner Elton John; a book by out writer Paul Rudnick; and dance segments from transgender choreographer James Alsop.
Alsop, who was born in Virginia, started professionally in the dance industry in 2010. She began instructing her siblings at a young age and eventually performed publicly in local talent shows in her hometown. She said, "I knew that was what I wanted to do after seeing Janet Jackson. At age 14 I took my first dance class. It became a defense mechanism for me at the time and people had respect for me even though I was living in a small town."
Alsop described choreographing to John's music: "I was blown away by the process. Coming from the commercial world, I wasn't used to having this much time to come up with dance moves. For Peacock's TV show Girls5eva, I get about 45 minutes with the cast. My wheels started turning immediately when I heard the music in 2019. Elton John's music is so contemporary and on brand with the show. The music is genius and very inspiring. There are so many genres of music that I had to learn to choreograph across the board. I will probably be working on it until the moment we open!"
Alsop is scheduled to work on an upcoming Whitney Houston biopic after the Prada project ,along with a new Transparent musical based on the television show. Her hope for the future is to bring happiness to the world: "If you don't have a voice then move on and invoke change. I want other nine-year-old Jameses to know they can do it too. It will happen one day!"
Cast members Javier Munoz, who plays the character Nigel Owens; and Megan Masako Haley, who portrays Emily Charlton, sat down privately to discuss their characters with Windy City Times at a recent press conference. Haley described Emily as someone who loves fashion and her job: "When Andy comes bumbling in we have a lot of fun!"
Munoz said his version of Nigel is different in some aspects than the movie adaptation, saying, "He's more of a fully developed character and human being. Without giving anything away, people get to meet not just his ambition but what it took for someone like him to get this far in this industry. He has integrity within himself."
He spoke about being an openly gay performer: "I came out of the closet swinging at the age of 17. In 2002 I made the decision as an artist to be a hundred percent myselftake it or leave it. If you leave it, then I don't want to be in the same room with you. That was the way I was going to live and that continues to this day."
At one point Munoz left his career but returned for later success in musicals. "I would tell my younger self that I am enough," he said. "I know I wouldn't have believed it in my teens, but I would try to drill it home, I am enough!"
Haley sent in a video to land her role and it took a year to hear back from the producers. Talk about moving at a "glacial pace" [quote from the script]. She was on the tour for the musical version of Mean Girls at the time, "I jumped on the show [at the] last second," she said. "Some of the cast had been working on it for years!"
Munoz auditioned for The Devil right before the pandemic lockdown, saying, "I was neck and neck with one of my best friends from college who wound up booking it. After he booked a TV show, they came back to me and asked if I was still interested. I said yes immediately! This is a rare kind of role and to jump in last minute, just like Megan, was magic."
The Hamilton and In the Heights star went on to say, "I cannot wait for the LGBTQ+ community to come to see the show and experience the story. There is so much inclusion and diversity everywhere with absolute integrity. I want to see more of this all the time."
Haley stated that she had never been in a show with so many trans and non-binary people onstage and backstage before. "It has created a place where this is supported and not just diversity for diversity's sake. It has been so freeing to see people get to fly. It is a safe place where nothing has been toned down or hidden. Everything is out in the open and celebrated in a way that is groundbreaking. It proves that it can be done when it is prioritized."
When Munoz was asked if Lin-Manuel Miranda wears Prada, he replied, "I'm sure he has. He's worn everything. We don't really talk fashion when we are hanging out, but maybe we should start!"
Visit BroadwayInChicago.com for more information on The Devil Wears Prada musical running July 19-Aug. 21 at the James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. Get tickets before Miranda Priestly leaves the building and heads to New York City's Great White Way.