Review Roundup: WAITRESS on Tour, What Did the Critics Think?
Sugar, Butter, Tour! The national tour of Waitress is sprinkling sugar across America. Check out what the critics are saying in each tour stop in the reviews below.
Waitress Tour Cast
Wicked alum, Christine Dwyer stars as the pie virtuoso, Jenna Hunterson, opposite Steven Good, who plays Dr. Pomatter. Jenna's waitress sidekicks, Becky and Dawn, are played by Maiesha McQueen and Ephie Aardema, respectively. Original Broadway cast member, Jeremy Morse plays Ogie. Jeremy Woodward plays Jenna's husband, Earl, and Richard Kline and Ryan G. Dunkin complete the principles as Joe and Cal.
St. Louis Reviews
Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post Dispatch: Bareilles has come up with delightful tunes that blend pop effervescence and Broadway traditionalism. "A Soft Place to Land" finds Jenna and her waitress pals Becky (Maiesha McQueen) and Dawn (Ephie Aardema) harmonizing with girl-group flair. And Dwyer comes through thrillingly on Jenna's big number, "She Used to Be Mine."
Kevin Brackett, ReviewSTL.com: One of my favorite characters in the show is Ogie (Jeremy Morse), who becomes infatuated with Dawn after a five-minute date matched from online. What I really was impressed by was the performance and never-ending energy from Morse. After his first scene, where he shows up to see Dawn again ("Never Ever Getting Rid of Me"), he had the entire theatre erupting with applause. I honestly thought he was going to receive a standing ovation in ACT I. The actor is absolutely hilarious - and extremely talented with his dancing and jumping around the stage while singing his heart out.
Tina Farmer, KDHX: The Sara Bareilles score provides tone and emotional depth, from the hauntingly ethereal "What's Inside" and the seductive "It Only Takes a Taste" to the humor in "Never Getting Rid of Me" and "Bad Idea" to the hopeful refrain of "Everything Changes." The songs effectively chronicle Jenna's life and are complemented by an onstage band, simple but pleasant choreography and an inventive set that adds the finishing touches to this thoroughly enjoyable musical.
Los Angeles Reviews
Daryl H. Miller, Los Angeles Times: Jessie Nelson's script, like the movie's, veers from drama to comedy and back again. This keeps us off-balance, as does the locale's exaggerated charm. Against a landscape of unrelenting flatness and lonely telephone poles, set designer Scott Pask drops us into a cheery diner where the production's lively six-player band often rolls into view and customers slap their tables in time to the music. Are we seeing life as Jenna might try to gloss it? Or is something supernatural in the air?
Jordan Riefe, The Hollywood Reporter: Veteran director Paulus makes fluid use of set designer Scott Pask's truck-stop diner, placing her band upstage, blended among the customers. Her ensemble scenes are energetic and voluminous enough to fill the proscenium, while her personal moments play with unmistakable passion and intimacy. But the real star of Waitress is Bareilles, who has achieved so much in her freshman effort. Her poetic lyrics and dynamic score make this a musical that speaks to anyone who has ever yearned to escape the drudgery of everyday life.
Erin Conley, On Stage and Screen: This is a musical that was unfortunate enough to open on Broadway the same year as Hamilton, and it is a shame because Bareilles would have taken home a statue any other year for this beautiful music.
Michael Quintos, BroadwayWorld: Both funny and heartwarming, WAITRESS is one of those musicals that seems quiet and unassuming on the surface, yet packs a punch with emotion, heart, and laugh-out-loud moments that pleasantly surprise with each viewing. Coupled with Bareilles' ear-candy catalog of songs and a wit-laced, easy-to-digest story adapted by Nelson, and performed by a truly winsome ensemble of actor-singers, there is so much to enjoy about this production as a whole. Like Jenna's culinary concoctions, WAITRESS is very much like comfort food for the musical theater soul.
Holly Beretto, Houstonia: Waitress is a show with a big heart, and it will be a crowd pleaser for sure, with a breezy style and themes of how the choices we make affect our presents and our futures, and how, in learning to be vulnerable, we often achieve strength we didn't know we had. But none of this remedies the fact that this musical remains the kind of confection you eat with relish, only to find later that you can't remember the taste.
Katricia Lang, BroadwayWorld: The production itself is superbly done. You instantly feel you're in the hands of people who know what they're doing. And you are. Tony Award®-winner Diane Paulus is an adroit director. And though, like Nelson, Paulus relies on stereotypical shorthand, such as in the home of Jenna and Earl, which is reminiscent of the set of Roseanne, you don't question the veracity of her choices.
Wei-Huan Chen, Houston Chronicle: In the era of "Fun Home" and "Dear Evan Hansen," the personal-drama musical is nothing new. But that doesn't mean it's any less extraordinary. "Waitress," mostly because of Bareilles, is nothing short of a tear-jerking pick-me-up with gorgeous modern-pop ballads and effective, subtle staging.
Don Aucoin, Boston Globe: Although "Waitress'' is the product of an all-female creative team, including choreographer Lorin Latarro, certain aspects land awkwardly in our current #MeToo moment, including not just the doctor-patient affair but also the romance between Dawn and the gratingly goofy Ogie (Jeremy Morse), whom the show seems to find adorable. Ogie shows up at the diner after he and Dawn have had a very brief blind date, even though she told him she didn't want to see him again, and makes this stalker-ish proclamation in song: "You're never ever ever getting rid of me.'' Um . . . Ogie ultimately proves to be harmless. But, like "Waitress,'' he's too darned eager to please.
Kilian Melloy, WBUR: Every minute of this production shimmers. That said, you never quite forget Jenna's circumstances, and the play hints at unpleasant things happening offstage. One character suffers in a sexless marriage to a presumably closeted gay person; another is tasked with changing the diapers of a disabled spouse. Thank the gods, then, for pies and pop music.
Nancy Grossman, BroadwayWorld: It is worth noting that Waitress was cooked up by a groundbreaking all-female creative team (Paulus, Bareilles, Nelson, and Latarro) and, not unlike Shelly's film, skews to the female perspective. However, perhaps with the exception of Earl, the abuser, the male characters are fully realized, three-dimensional, and primarily good people. Like the women of Waitress, they are allowed to be exactly who they are, i.e., human, and are all doing the best they can. It's a simple recipe for success in life and in the theater.
Christopher Ehlers, Dig Boston: Even if most of the show's characters are stereotypes, the musical functions as an entertaining and-dare I say-inspiring modern-day fairy tale. The book, by I Am Sam screenwriter Jessie Nelson, was the biggest detriment to Waitress last time I saw it, but it has improved substantially even if it still occasionally resorts to cliche.
Cristina Pla-Guzman, BroadwayWorld: It's hard to pick your favorite song in the show since there are so many choices with irresistible hits by 6-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles, but what Morse does with "Never Getting Rid of Me" makes it easily one of the best numbers in the show.
Aaron Krause, Theatrical Musings: Undoubtedly, singing "She Used to be Mine" is one of the highlights of Christine Dwyer's mostly solid performance as Jenna. Dwyer doesn't just sing the piece, but sincerely and intensely lays bare her innermost feelings through it. Impressively, her Dwyer's rendition of the song doesn't feel forced.
Michelle F. Solomon, MAZ: This national touring company inhabits the endearing characters. By the end of the night, you'll feel like you've spent the evening with people you've known your whole life.
San Francisco Reviews
Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News: Perhaps inevitably, there are some saccharine moments in this sugary mix, and the pie metaphor is pushed pretty relentlessly. The story takes some predictable turns, in the manner of romantic comedies and inspirational narratives in general. But the script is sharp and much of the dialogue feels fresh, while some of the songs are mighty catchy. Jenna's lament of losing her sense of self, "She Used to Be Mine," is heartbreaking and beautifully delivered by Dwyer, and Ogie's hysterically hyperactive "Never Ever Getting Rid of Me" brings the house down.
Lily Janiak, Datebook: In its championing of its women's quiet strength, "Waitress" also gently puts forth another thesis: You can both love someone with all your devotion and lust after someone else. Those two seemingly contradictory notions can exist side by side, without canceling each other out, in someone who's basically a good person, someone you root for. We love, and we lust. Those truths don't usually work out into a fairy tale ending, in life or in "Waitress," but their messy coexistence makes us human, even ennobles us to something grander, the way a pie shop on the side of a highway opens into an impossible sunset beyond.
Jay Barmann, 7x7: Ultimately it is the script by Jessie Nelson, based on Shelly's film, that gives the show its idiosyncratic thrust, with its unlikely lovers, realistic twists, and unconventional ending. Earl feels a bit like a cartoon, and that may be a flaw, but Jenna, her friends, and Dr. Pomatter all feel like fully fleshed out, complicated characters like we rarely see in Broadway shows, especially ones with such light, crowd-pleasing motives as this one.
Leslie Katz, San Francisco Examiner: Happily, book writer Jessie Nelson includes the quirks and captures the everyday life quality of late screenwriter Adrienne Shelly's amusing and touching 2007 film dramedy "Waitress." And with cute yet pithy jazzy, folk and rock-tinged pop tunes by Sara Bareilles (similar in tone to her breakout anti love-song hit "Love Song"), it's a recipe for success. It's not a given that a movie-to-musical works, but the touted, rare all-female creative team behind "Waitress" - director Diane Paulus and choreographer Lorin Latarro round out the foursome - serves up just the right touch of sass and sentiment in the 2016 Broadway show.
Wendell Brock, AJC: Dwyer is a lovely singer and actor playing an ambivalent figure who is more weary than cynical. Good is wonderful, too, especially in his first encounters with Jenna, as he nervously and goofusly tries to negotiate his way around a situation that is sticky, to say the least. Good's timing is superb. (Rheaume Crenshaw's very funny Nurse Norma is always there to roll her eyes and remind the lovers of the inappropriate nature of their behavior, too.)
Emma MacDonald, VOX ATL: From the charming and hardworking Jenna (Christine Dwyer), to quirky and nerdy characters such as Dawn (Jessie Shelton) and Ogie (Jeremy Morse), to the witty and unassailable best friend Becky (Maiesha McQueen), each and every actor brings their own personality to the stage.
Jeremy Bustin, BroadwayWorld: Stealing the whole show is Jeremy Morse, who makes the most of his 15 minutes of stage time as Dawn's love interest, Ogie. His unforgettable and uproarious performance of "Never Ever Getting Rid of Me," featuring spastic movements and physical comedy, is one of the funniest things this reviewer has ever seen and earns well-deserved ovations.
The Marriage Matinee, BroadwayWorld: Maiesha McQueen starred as Becky, and she was the fount of all things sassy and smart. McQueen makes Becky shine as the anchor of this trio, the one most grounded in making decisions that may not always be right but may get you where you need to go next in life. And her own intense singing made you sit up and pay attention. If I were to pick one of the three to steer my life choices, Becky would be the one. Becky is a force to be reckoned with, and McQueen ensured that she did it in heartfelt style.
Katrina Beniaris, Chicago Parent: If you got a taste for a bittersweet romantic comedy, then you need a slice of Waitress in your life. This theatrical treat mixes together the right amount of ingredients-humor, love and drama. Yearning for a night out on the town? Leave the kids at home and spend some time escaping to Joe's Pie Diner in the American South.
Tony Adler, Chicago Reader: But my wife couldn't shrug off the notion of a doctor getting intimate with a patient, even if director Diane Paulus stages those intimacies in a way that makes Jenna's willing participation utterly clear. In the time of #MeToo, Pomatter's behavior may need to be confronted with something more than a song.
Amy Munice, Picture This Post: The music - even when lyrics are about serious stuff- have, at least for this writer a light as whipped cream on a good pie feel that lightens up the underlying story. It's so light and breezy one can imagine it as good summer family outing fare. BUT- and it's a big BUT-it's a plot line full of philandering and illicit affairs, which means a Parental Guidance warning may be in order.
Jodie Jacobs, Chicago Theater and Arts: An unexpected highlight of Act I was when Ogie (Jeremy Morse), kind of a weird guy who was Dawn's five-minute blind date the night before, shows up at the Diner. As he passionately sings and performs some intricate steps to "Never Ever Getting Rid Of Me" Dawn and Ogie find out they have a lot in common.
Waitress is based off of Adrienne Shelly's motion picture of the same name. The musical features a score by Sara Bareilles, book by Jessie Nelson, direction by Diane Paulus, and choreography by Lorin Latarro.
How To Get Tickets
Craving a slice of "Waitress?" Catch the tour on their upcoming stops in cities like Detroit, Dayton, Rochester, and more. To see the full tour schedule and ticket information, tap here.