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Review: WAITRESS Charms at Bass Concert Hall

Review: WAITRESS Charms at Bass Concert Hall

WAITRESS is a 2015 musical with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles and a book by Jessie Nelson, which is based on the 2007 film of the same name, written by Adrienne Shelly. It tells the story of Jenna Hunterson (Christine Dwyer), a waitress in an abusive relationship with her husband Earl (Matt DeAngelis). When Jenna unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she begins an affair with her gynecologist, Dr. Jim Pomatter (Steven Good). Looking for a way out, she sees a pie contest and its twenty thousand dollar grand prize as her only chance.

WAITRESS is a charming romantic musical comedy directed by Diane Paulus and choreographed by Lorin Latarro. The stage direction and choreography flow seamlessly into each other and contains some really clever staging for the seated ensemble when they are functioning as customers in the pie shop. Scott Pask's set design is a technical marvel, with tables and counters that float on and offstage and drops that fly in and out, flanked by panels at the edge of the proscenium that change from industrial metals to rotating pie display racks. Ken Billington's lighting does a marvelous job of making the musical numbers stand out and illuminating the skyline backdrop so that at times it appears to be a beautiful sunset. Suttirat Anne Larlarb's costumes perfectly create that diner chic look.

Christine Dwyer is terrific as Jenna, possessing a quirky sense of timing and a glorious singing voice. Jessie Shelton is hilarious as Dawn and Maiesha McQueen is sassy with attitude to spare as Becky, Jenna's coworkers. Their trio on "The Negative" is very funny and contains some beautiful three part harmony. Ryan G. Dunkin is great as boss Cal and Matt DeAngelis is appropriately smarmy as the self centered and abusive Earl. Steven Good makes a nice romantic interest for Jenna as Dr. Pomatter; however, it is Jeremy Morse, as Ogie, who is the company standout with his hysterically funny performance that steals just about every scene he is in with some winningly physical comedy. Rheaume Crenshaw also has several great comedy bits as the put upon Nurse Norma.

WAITRESS is, in short, a charming new musical comedy with some great characters and catchy original music. While is does remind me of the old sitcom Alice, it still stands on it's own as a fresh original new musical.

WAITRESS, book by Jessie Nelson, music and Lyrics by Sara Bareilles, based upon the notion picture written by Adrienne Shelly.
Running Time: Approximately There Hours, including intermission.

WAITRESS, produced by Broadway in Austin at Bass Concert Hall (2350 Robert Dedman Drive on the University of Texas campus).

January 22 - 27, 2019. Tuesday - Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m & 7 p.m.

TICKETS: Start at $30.Tickets are available at,, the Bass Concert Hall ticket office, all Texas Box Office Outlets, by phone at (512) 477-6060. For groups of 10 or more, call (877) 275-3804 or email

From This Author - Frank Benge

A Kansas native, Frank Benge has been involved in the Austin area theatre scene as a Director, Designer, Writer and Performer for the past 20 years. He holds a double BA in Theatre and English from... (read more about this author)