BWW Review: WAITRESS Brings Powerful Performance to the Table at Fox Cities P.A.C.
WAITRESS opened up at Appleton's Fox Cities Performing Arts Center on November 28, marking the Wisconsin premiere of the show, which will continue to play through December 3. The fresh, fun show is a piping-hot treat!
Based on the 2007 film by the same name, WAITRESS follows Jenna, a young waitress in an unhappy marriage. Her passion for pies provides her with a possible path out. If she can win a pie contest in a nearby community, she thinks she can start her life fresh, but along the way, other challenges are ordered up.
While WAITRESS did not win any Tony Awards after its 2016 Broadway debut, that can easily be attributed to one main curveball: HAMILTON. Had it premiered on Broadway in a different season, it is easy to assume that WAITRESS would have taken its slice of the pie since it has a lot to offer theater goers.
The music and lyrics by recording artist Sara Bareilles range from sticky-sweet pop to powerful, emotive numbers. The show makes extensive use of tight harmonies, which adds richness to the music.
The book by Jessie Nelson shares much the charm (and indeed, many of the same jokes) as the movie the show is based upon. There is no shortage of laughs.
The touring production is "fresh out of the oven," having just opened in October. The cast mixes vocal prowess and acting chops to provide the perfect recipe for a great performance.
Desi Oakley delivers powerhouse vocals as Jenna. Her songs are stirring and heartfelt, providing the emotional foundation of the show.
Bryan Fenkart is hilarious and charismatic as Jenna's gynecologist-turned-love-interest, Dr. Pomatter. It's difficult not to draw comparisons to Nathan Fillion, who originated the role in the movie. Comparisons against Nathan Fillion rarely work out well for those being compared, but Fenkart's humor and charm definitely live up to the standards Fillion set.
Understudy Maiesha McQueen is dynamic as Jenna's friend Becky. Her facial expressions capture the mood perfectly, and her voice soars.
Lenne Klingaman is awkward and adorable as Jenna's friend Dawn. Her bubbly personality leaps off the stage.
Nick Bailey is unlikeable but understandable as Jenna's abusive husband Earl. His rich voice might make you wish the show had more Earl (though the character's actions may make you wish otherwise).
Jeremy Morse is a scene-stealer as Ogie. His light-on-his-feet physical comedy paired with his excellent comedic timing stirs the audience into a tizzy. Hoots and hollers can be heard from every corner of the theater.
Larry Marshall is loveably curmudgeonly as Joe, the owner of the diner.
Local actress Nora Lou Wallenfang is cute as a button as Lulu.
All in all, WAITRESS serves up a lot of goodness baked in a beautiful pie.
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus