BWW Review: WAITRESS Is Filled With the Right Ingredients
It's no surprise I love a musical about pie, but its recipe is what makes Waitress so delectable.
The 2007 indie movie of the same name is the delicious crust, and its filled with enchanting music and lyrics by songstress Sara Bareilles and a book adapted for the stage by Jessie Nelson (who you might recognize as the writer of films like "Corrina, Corrina," "I Am Sam" and "Stepmom").
Waitress premiered on Broadway in April 2016 and is still running. Its national tour, which launched this past October, is making a stop in Denver through December 31st. While it was nominated for a few Tony awards, it's unclear how the musical would have done if it wasn't in the same season as the triumphant Hamilton.
The story follows Jenna (Desi Oakley), a Waitress at a small-town diner that specializes in pies. She's in an unhappy marriage with Earl (Nick Bailey), who just got her pregnant, making Jenna feel stuck...until she realizes her pietry (like pie poetry, go with it) could be her way out. The Springfield Pie Contest has a prize of $20k, and she just needs to save the money to enter. Meanwhile, she meets her new gynecologist, Dr. Pomatter (Bryan Fenkart), and the two start an affair.
Directed by Diane Paulus, the musical is fairly similar to its film counterpart. You've still got her work buddies, Dawn (Lenne Klingaman) and Becky (Charity Angel Dawson); Dawn's eccentric new beau, Ogie (Jeremy Morse); the diner's owner, Joe (Larry Marshall), and manager/cook Cal (Ryan G. Dunkin). Denver's stop features a couple of young local actresses (Molly Scotto and Hazel Thompson) in a feature as Jenna's daughter, Lulu.
The production is simplistically beautiful. The band's on stage, and they're infused into the action along with an ensemble brings heart to mainly interpretive choreography from Abbey O'Brien. Scott Pask's set flows with ease between scenes, but it's Ken Billington's lighting design of the sunsets that really did it for me.
While I enjoyed the music and performances, I felt like the concept was a little inconsistent and not fully developed. Despite that, the show gave me a heartwarming distraction from my own personal life issues and provided some necessary empowerment to help me push through.
It's amazing what a musical about baking can do.
Waitress plays the Buell Theatre with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts through December 31st. Tickets available at DenverCenter.org or by calling (303) 893-4100.
Photos by Joan Marcus