BWW Review: WAITRESS Inspires at Victoria Theatre Association Schuster Center
This weekend at the Schuster Center, don't miss your chance to see the funny and heartwarming hit Broadway musical WAITRESS
Some fans may remember the 2007 movie WAITRESS starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion. The story remains much the same as the film written by Adrienne Shelly with book for the musical written by Jessie Nelson and Music and Lyrics by Sara Bareilles. The story follows Jenna, the titular waitress as she journeys towards motherhood and achieving her dreams of not only owning a pie shop of her own but also leaving behind an abusive marriage. The story rings true for any woman who has ever found herself in such a situation. As such, there were a few parts that made me a little uncomfortable in the audience but not overly so.
While there were noteworthy performances by the men in the show, particularly the hilarious Jeremy Morse (Ogie), the adorably awkward Steven Good (Dr. Pomatter) and the gruff teddy bear Ryan G. Dunkin (Cal), this show is really about the women and boy do they shine. Every note, every gesture are right on the money. I have never seen WAITRESS before but I could not imagine seeing finer performances anywhere.
Ephie Aardema plays endearing, socially backward Dawn, who ultimately finds her soul mate in the equally awkward, She is comic gold without ever crossing over into a caricature which could easily be done. Her big solo number "When He Sees Me" displays insecurities that all women have felt at one time or another when dealing with dating. Her interactions with Jeremy Morse as Ogie are among the funniest I have ever seen. "I Love You Like a Table". There are just no more words for that song. Just perfect chemistry. I was laughing until I cried.
While the character of Becky could easily be the stereotypical sidekick BFF with an attitude, Melody A. Betts took the character to a new level. Funny, insightful, tender, and supportive of Jenna, all while dealing with her own crap at home. She brought down the house with her rendition of "I Didn't Plan It".
Last but not least, Christine Dwyer as Jenna was brilliant. Vulnerable and lost, we see Jenna's discovery of her own strength and her own self worth through her mistakes and triumphs and quite a few pie recipes. I cried right along with her at the birth of her daughter. Through her eyes, I was able to go back in time a little to when my own daughters were born. Her penultimate number, "She Used to be Mine" was heartbreakingly beautiful, and so resonant for anyone who has ever felt lost or alone. Stunning. Also, from a physical note, the fact that she is on stage, carrying the story from beginning to end without wavering is impressive. It was truly one of the finest performances I have seen in some time.
Just a short note on some theatre etiquette. First, there is no excuse for cell phones going off during a show at this point. Even after a lovely curtain speech/song about turning off cell phones, I still heard one going off during the show. Second, during the show is not a good time for a conversation. One of the first lessons I learned in school is that when others are speaking, you should not be. And last, no matter how brilliant of a singer you may be, please don't sing along with the show, particularly in the emotional climax. Your fellow audience members want to hear the actors, not you.
There are five opportunities remaining for you to see WAITRESS at the Schuster Center for the Performing Arts: Friday and Saturday at 8 PM, Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM and the final performance at 7:30 PM on Sunday. For tickets, call 937-228-3630, visit the Schuster Center box office or www.ticketcenterstage.com.