BWW Review: WAITRESS THE MUSICAL at BASS PERFORMANCE HALL

BWW Review: WAITRESS THE MUSICAL at BASS PERFORMANCE HALL

Sugar. Butter. Flour. We all know the ingredients it takes to make a delicious pie, but what else is tucked away inside? Onstage in the hit musical WAITRESS, it's a dash bit of creativity, a pinch of passion, and a tasty new title wrap around each crust! As presented at Bass Performance Hall (sponsored by Performing Arts For Worth), the female-forward tale filled both heart and stomachs with delight.

As audiences sat and waited for the beautiful pie-painted curtain to rise, the smell of delectable baked goods wafted through the performance hall. Conversations of favorite pie flavors and types of crusts halted as Jenna opens the show mid baking frenzy. Desi Oakley owned the stage with her dreamy girl-next-door presence as Jenna. The ensemble assists Jenna in baking one of her famous pies as they magically make ingredients appear and disappear around her. Oakley's opening dreamlike trance leads you into knowing that Jenna is a one-of-a-kind, special woman with a knack for the sweet side of life.

We're immediately transported into Joe's Pie Shop where Cal (Ryan G. Dunkin), Becky (Charity Angel Dawson) and Dawn (Lenne Klingaman) hold down the fort and make their day to day living. Immediately you'll notice that the six-piece orchestra isn't in the orchestra pit below but onstage as the band within the pie shop; a design choice that wonderfully enhanced the show's themes of community. As tables, booths and the rest of the shop slides back into focus, audiences easily transition into Jenna's reality. Despite having a great work environment, Jenna's home life isn't as sweet. Earl, played by Nick Bailey, slithers on into the shop and proves to be a troublemaker with a one sided relationship with Jenna. Bailey's performance of the abusive boyfriend was so convincing audience members audibly groaned as he appear in and out of Jenna's story. Pie shop owner Joe, played by Larry Marshall, had me sold as the crotchety old man with a heart of gold. Marshall's performance was truthful, witty and tender. Oakley and Marshall's chemistry was consistently sweet from the first bite.

An obvious highlight onstage in Waitress is the female friendships. Jenna, Becky and Dawn are the ultimate symbols of sisterhood, loyalty and trust. These three women work together and despite their personality differences the love they have for one another is evident. Dawson's Becky is a tough, salt of the earth type of woman who may show a rough exterior but is beautifully vulnerable nonetheless. Her rendition of "I Didn't Plan It" was soulful and spine tingling, an exquisite execution of Bareille' lyrics. Klingaman's Dawn was kind, quirky and enthusiastically shy. Dawn's 'I want' song "When He Sees Me" was musically calculated and relatable as Klingaman made you feel what it was like to date for the first time all over again. Oakley's Jenna was kind-hearted and lovely. Jenna's imperfections weren't masked by Oakley but embraced and loved throughout the entire show. It was masterful to watch her maneuver through Jenna's storyline. This trio of women is unstoppable.

The men were no force to be reckoned with either! Dunkin's Cal was a perfect reminder of that lovable boss we've all had. The chemistry between Dunkin and Dawson was palpable and had me closely watching them the whole show. Bryan Fenkart's portrayal of Dr. Pomatter was lovely and romantic. Fenkart and Oakley's romance was complicated, passionate and always interesting. He truly knew how to make all the women in the room swoon. The audience favorite was Jeremy Morse's Ogie the over zealous date that Dawn has in the first act. "Never Ever Getting Rid of Me" was quick-witted, catchy and made the audience roar with laughter. Morse's Ogie was loveable and persistent as the American Revolution re-enacting blind date that charismatically dances his way into Dawn's heart. Morse combined with Klingaman was a dynamic revolutionary duo!

Overall, Waitress is a beautiful story of one woman making her way through life with her friends and her pies by her side. The pie shop has since closed in Fort Worth, but their online menu can guide you to their upcoming adventures across the US. For tickets and more information, vist www.WaitressTheMusical.com.

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From This Author Lorens Portalatin

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