BWW Review: WAITRESS at The Fisher Theatre Serves Up Something Spectacular!
The National Tour of Waitress, running now through May 19th at the Fisher Theatre, is a spectacular production all-around. Waitress tells the story of Jenna - a Waitress and expert pie maker in a small southern town. She dreams of a way out of this small town and away from her broken marriage and abusive husband. Through the thought of winning a local pie baking contest and forming a brand-new life, Jenna longs to make her dreams a reality. In order to do so, Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life. With original music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, this show is sure to leave you singing in your seat.
I had the privilege of attending opening night of Waitress in Detroit. Everything about this performance is stunning-the vocals, acting choices, movement, and set all molded together beautifully.
Christine Dwyer, performing the lead role of Jenna, was incredible on stage. Her vocal range does a perfect job encompassing the broad range of Jenna's solo numbers. Sara Bareilles wrote Jenna's songs in the musical to be sung by a powerhouse female vocalist that has a unique softness in her voice. Dwyer not only fits this bill but excels throughout the show. This is most evident during Dwyer's showstopping performance of "She Used to Be Mine." Dwyer also does an excellent job of playing a soft and sensitive, yet courageous character throughout the show. Her acting choices and mannerisms on stage are perfect for the part. Overall, Dwyer is an unstoppable leading lady.
Jenna's two close friends, Dawn and Becky, are by her side through thick and thin. Ephie Aardema plays the role of Dawn with an energy and quirkiness that is all her own. Dawn is a very awkward person, comfortable living in her own bubble with no ambitions to branch out or leave her small-town life. Aardema embodies this awkward, timid character perfectly. At many parts throughout the show she is the comedic relief and does a great job of delivering her "laugh lines" with an enthusiasm that make them standout. Becky, played gracefully by Maeisha McQueen, also serves as comedic relief throughout most of the show. McQueen plays the bold, strong-willed character of Becky beautifully. She is a force to be reckoned with on stage and is a definite standout. Her solo "I Didn't Plan It" is inspiring.
Another huge standout in the show is Ogie, played hilariously by Jeremy Morse. Ogie is a guy that Dawn meets on a dating app and ends up marrying. Quirky like dawn, the two are a perfect match for each other. Ogie is a bit obsessed with Dawn after their first date and pictures their whole life together after that first instant. Ogie's big number in the show, "Never Ever Getting Rid of Me", is his proclamation to Dawn that she is stuck with him forever. The two's chemistry on stage will make the audience think that Morse and Aardema have been acting together for years.
Something unique about Waitress is that the orchestra pit is setup on stage throughout the course of the show. At times, when they are not playing, they retreat to booths on the set of the diner and begin engaging as if they are a part of the ensemble. As an audience member, this was very engaging and something I have never seen before. This small detail adds to the uniqueness of the entire show.
Waitress is an incredible musical extravaganza that everyone can enjoy. Whether it be the stunning vocals or phenomenal acting, this show has something for everyone.
Waitress is currently running until May 19th at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit. For more information and tickets, visit www.BroadwayInDetroit.com.
*Broadway in Detroit partnered with Achatz Handmade Pie company to bake and sell mini-pies at the Fisher Theatre concession stands during the Detroit engagement of Waitress.Guest attending the show will be able to purchase two of Achatz' most popular flavors: Michigan Dutch Apple and Michigan Four Berry pies a souvenir Waitress 3oz Mason Jar. The unique and delicious pie jars will be sold with a disposable spoon making them consumable at the theatre or taken home to enjoy after the performance. Having souvenir Waitresspies available for sale at the theatre is a practice that began during the shows initial performance on Broadway. More information on Achatz Handmade Pie Company can be found here: www.achatzpies.com.