Waitress / our review
COLOURFUL Creative enchanting
May 11th, 2016
A bitter sweet slice of life
Fun Fact: Waitress is making history as the first musical in Broadway to be lead by four women in the top creative slots (writer, composer, director, choreographer). In an interview with Broadway World Director Diane Paulus says, "I feel every woman is in their job in this production because they're at the top of their game. They're not there because they're a woman... It was, 'Who's the best person for the job?' And guess what? It's 2016, and there are women who are at the top of their game in all of these areas, so I'm happy to reflect that in the production."
Target Audience: A younger audience will really appreciate this musical as the score has a pop influence with songs and lyrics by Sara Bareilles. It is a fun choice for a girl's night out!
Feel-O-Meter: While this is a feel good show, there is a dash of melancholy that sits with you and serves as a reminder to live life to the full.
Standout Actor: Christopher Fitzgerald (Ogie) is living proof that there are no small parts! He has perfected his recipe using the exact amount of comedic timing with cringe worthy awkwardness, resulting in his sweet as pie performance of Ogie. Fitzgerald won the Outer Critics Circle Award and has been nominated for a Tony. He sings "Never Ever Getting Rid of Me" which is aptly named for his unforgettable performance.
Verdict: Take Nelson's well written book and mix in; a Tony, Drama Desk and Grammy Award winning actress (Jessie Mueller) with a Tony Award winning director (Diane Paulus), add music from five-time Grammy nominated singer-songwriter (Sara Bareilles), and the result is scrumptious!
As you walk into the Brooks Atkinson Theatre there is a gentle scent of cinnamon, vanilla and chocolate wafting through the air and the message is clear from the get go, you are in for a treat! It smells as if you have walked into a bakery filled with fresh cakes and your mouth starts to water making you feel instantly happier. After all, sugar makes everything better right?
While many Broadway shows sweep you away into far away worlds and mystical settings, Waitress offers a slice of life from a small town diner with little to nothing going on. Each character is dealing with universal concerns, and searching for the courage needed to reach the level of happiness they desire.
Jenna Hunterson (played by Jessie Mueller) invites us into her world of baking pies, a sweet escape from her humdrum existence, working as a waitress in the diner and stuck in an abusive marriage with no financial security. Mueller has an outstanding voice and her range is an absolute delight. Throughout Jenna's journey, her friends Becky (Keala Settle) and Dawn (Kimiko Glenn) are by her side, highlighting a female bond we rarely see showcased in story. Each actress delivers a fantastic performance with truth and authenticity. Choreographer Lorin Latarro has added an evident pulse to the show as, as more joy and flow starts to occur in their lives so to do their movements become more fluid. The synergy between the cast is wonderful to watch and lighting designer Christopher Akerlind guides us from reality to day dreams with ease.
Jessie Nelson adapted the book from Adrienne Shelly's 2007 indie movie and Diane Paulus (Director) felt that the Broadway production had to offer a unique spin. Hence, the call for singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles and her band. Adding the pop influence juxtaposes the classic musical formulae, making the show more appealing to the modern market and perhaps reflects the changes to come on Broadway. The band became such a big part of the process that the decision was made to have them on stage throughout the show.
Bareilles and her band's contribution in creating the music for Waitress has generated a lot of hype, and given the show's recent Tony nominations for Best Musical, and Best Original Score I would say the proof is in the pudding! In addition, Bareilles's album What's Inside: Songs From Waitress continues to gain momentum on iTunes alongside the rapid increase in ticket sales to Waitress.
Waitress has teamed up with SAVI - The Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention program who met with the cast during rehearsals and have pamphlets available at every show, their hope is that through the bright lights, comedy and fun filled show the audience will leave with a key message, end domestic abuse and find happiness in your home. Do not be deterred by that weighty burden as the show is truly stunning and definitely worth seeing. Be sure to take some change with you as there are waitresses selling mini pies for you to enjoy during the show.
View our show pages for more information about Waitress, Brooks Atkinson Theater.