Bigger-than-life characters are perfect targets for parody. No doubt author Lauren Weisberger felt that way when she wrote The Devil Wears Prada, a novel in which a thinly disguised Anna Wintour is depicted as the boss from hell. Meryl Streep tackled the role of Miranda Priestly in a 2006 film; the performance resulted in one of her numerous Oscar nominations. So it was only a matter of time before the film spawned its own spoof, which brings us to The Unauthorized Musical Parody of The Devil Wears Prada, currently playing at Rockwell Table & Stage. The role of Miranda Priestly has been taken up by comedian Drew Droege, who alternates the role with John Flynn.
If you’re unfamiliar with Droege’s name, perhaps you’ll recognize his face: he’s Chloe Sevigny’s drag doppelganger. Around 2010, Droege began posting videos of himself impersonating the actress, which has only helped him step into Streep’s stilettos. “I don’t look at the real Chloe anymore,” he says. “My Chloe is so different. It’s way more fun to create my own character that’s based on part of her rather than my own impression. It’s the same with Meryl Streep. I haven’t watched DWP since rehearsals. I’m not going to watch it again through the run. I don’t want to be too worried about being so slavish to the model.”
In a previous show, Streep Tease, Droege played Streep as she appeared in A Cry in the Dark. (The film is famous for the line, “The dingo’s got my baby.”) Like most of the world, he has a keen appreciation for Streep’s work. “[She] is open to being really broad,” he says. “I think that’s why she’s larger than life. She’s not afraid to be dangerous or too much. That’s why I gravitate to it. She’s so playful and alive on camera.”
Droege, who is from North Carolina, finds that drag performances can do more than entertain; they can help change people’s minds—something he hopes might happen in his home state in light of recent religious freedom laws put on the books. “With more drag shows and more people performing in drag, it helps open the eyes of people who have never considered that experience or reality,” he says. “I love what RuPaul said, something about drag and transgender being the opposite of each other. Transgender is about the expression of truth, and drag is the lie. As horrible as the law is, it’s actually promoting a conversation. The more exposure, the better.”
And while Droege is all for exposure, he isn’t sure about Streep (or Wintour) showing up for a show at the Rockwell. “I’d go dead inside,” he says with a laugh. “I would be a total mess after the show. I don’t know what I would say to them—‘I hope you liked it’? I don’t know Meryl Streep, but I get such a warmth and humanity from her. I would love for her to see it. I’d prefer her over Anna Wintour, but I’d like to think they’d both like it.”