Review: WAITRESS Opens Broadway in Louisville's 2021 - 2022 Season at Whitney Hall

Playing at Whitney Hall at Kentucky Performing Arts through 11/14

By: Nov. 10, 2021

Review: WAITRESS Opens Broadway in Louisville's 2021 - 2022 Season at Whitney Hall Kennedy Salters, Jisel Soleil Ayon and Gabriella Marzetta in Waitress. Photo Credit to Jeremy Daniel.

Last night almost didn't feel real. Waitress opened in Louisville. This statement under normal circumstances wouldn't hold that much weight, but this show has been a bit of a unicorn for Louisville audiences, as the show's opening has been over three years in the making. The show was originally scheduled to close the 2017 - 2018 season, but in a bout of unfortunate luck, The Kentucky Center caught fire about a week before Waitress was set to arrive, and the damage was too great for the show's curtain to rise. A couple seasons later, the show was back on the schedule to the delight of many, but Covid-19 was the second roadblock the show faced in its lengthy journey to Louisville. That brings us to present day, in the reality of our new normal, when it almost seems fitting that Waitress was the show to reopen Louisville's booming Broadway season. Armed with masks, a vaccine card, and greeted by a well equipped team to ensure safety, I was ready for a great night.

The show itself has a special place in my heart. I've been one of its biggest cheerleaders for a very long time, and I've been awaiting the day I'd get to see it again. The show didn't disappoint to say the least. It easily felt like the cast was just as excited to be there as we were, and the overall energy was just phenomenal.

This newest iteration of the tour is led by newcomer Jisel Soleil Ayon as Jenna. She's very well cast and brings a lot of heart and a glorious voice to Sara Bareilles' fabulous score. She is joined by Kennedy Salters as Becky and Gabriella Marzetta as Dawn, her coworkers and friends at Joe's Pie Diner. Salters is in great voice and sings her act two showstopper with ease. She has Becky's attitude down completely. I just wish she had a few more levels in her acting choices, but overall she was very strong. Marzetta's Dawn is also a delight to see, as her quirkiness is so incredibly endearing, and her chemistry with her co-stars was wonderful to witness.

The cast is rounded out by David Soclar as Dr. Pomatter, Brian Lundy as Ogie, Shawn W. Smith as Earl, and Michael R. Douglas as Old Joe. They all do great in their respective roles with Soclar and Smith in particularly good voice. Soclar had a lot of great moments, but overall he played the role of Pomatter a bit sillier than I would have liked. However, that's merely a matter of taste and he won the audience over. I also must mention Lundy's Ogie as being the audience favorite, a title that is well earned by his earnest and nerdy portrayal.

The ensemble was small but mighty; I feel like they sounded very full and balanced. The set was pretty comparable to its Broadway counterpart, even if at points the lack of an automated set was noticeable. I also must point out that she sound was absolutely superb, sometimes the deign and balance is hit or miss, but this show sounded absolutely worth it.

The anticipation for Waitress in Louisville was very high, and I honestly think it was well worth the months and months of waiting. A cast of insanely talented performers paired with an impeccably written show rarely disappoints, and disappoint Waitress does not. It's only here for a limited time, so get down to Whitney Hall when you can to experience the magic of Waitress for yourself.


Now - November 14th

Whitney Hall at Kentucky Performing Arts