BWW Album Review: Opening Up WAITRESS's Bonus Tracks from WHAT'S NOT INSIDE
It's rare that we get the "bonus features" version of a Broadway score. More often than not, songs that are edited or replaced on the road to Broadway are tucked away to be pulled out for special concerts or never seen again. Luckily for fans of Waitress, the creative team has released What's Not Inside, a delightful mini-album of songs that were scrapped on the road to Broadway. It's a charming addition to one of the 21st century's surprise smash hits.
The highlights of the album are a pair of songs that give a deepened understanding to the parts of the story that we already know. "Happy Enough" gives some depth and background to one of the show's existing most powerful lines. Near the end of the final show, Jenna whispers a promise that "we're going to be so happy - not just happy enough, but really happy." It's a moving line that's at the heart of the show's thesis: that we all deserve to be really, truly happy, not just "happy enough." This bittersweet song ties the theme more clearly in, with an introspective moment that sets it as the heart of Jenna's journey.
The other song that enhances our existing understanding of Waitress and its characters is "Without a Believer." It's a proto-version of "It Only Takes a Taste," the sweetly awkward song that introduces us to the connection between Dr. Pomatter and Jenna. "Without a Believer" dives a little deeper into Pomatter's backstory, giving us enough information about him so that he's a three-dimensional character, not just a fantasy for Jenna. "One who might listen, someone to simply be glad that we're there," the lyrics go. On the surface, the song positions Pomatter as being that "someone" for Jenna, but also foreshadowing how she'll be the same for him. While the final song is a little more upbeat and memorable, there's something thoughtful and lovely about this cut version.
Some of the songs, however, are clearly much better off as bonus tracks than as part of the show. The oddly upbeat "I Can't Wait" feels like a tonal mismatch, and it's hard to pinpoint exactly where it might have gone in the show as we know it. Similarly, "Knocked Up You" takes what seems like a fun concept - a sort of Andrews Sisters-esque Greek chorus of pregnant women "welcoming" Jenna - and runs it too long, to the point where the joke isn't funny anymore. They're fun as bonus material, but clearly not quite right for the show as it stands now.
There's also a pair of songs that deep-dive Waitress fans will recognize, in segments if not in their entirety. "Door Number Three" opens with a familiar snippet of music that's still in the show today, underscoring a moment early on when Jenna is preparing to take a pregnancy test. This extended version, so to speak, gives us more of Jenna's internal monologue, but it's clear why it was trimmed down so much: it does slow down the momentum. Similarly, "Falling in Love Pie" has a similar feeling to "You Matter to Me." It's doesn't pack the same emotional punch as that song, but it has some beautiful images and ideas: the thought of someone you're learning to love as "some stranger you recognize" and the sentiment "may we all be so lucky."
Of course, the album also includes one track that's very familiar already: "She Used to Be Mine," the show's signature song. It's sung, like the other tracks on the album, by composer and star Sara Bareilles. There's nothing new about this version, but that's totally fine: it's a truly stunning song that hasn't lost any of its power over the years. As Waitress gets ready to close up the pie shop, this album is the perfect way to celebrate its successful run and the voices that made it happen.