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BWW Review: The National Tour of WAITRESS Comes to the Academy of Music

With a sprinkle of friendship, a dash of gorgeous music, a handful of humor, and plenty of empowerment, the national tour of Waitress is a must-see.

Waitress (Non-Eq)

The national tour of Waitress opened at the Kimmel Cultural Campus' Academy of Music last night, where it is set to run through Sunday, April 3. Waitress, featuring music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, centers on Jenna (Jisel Soleil Ayon), a waitress and pie-maker at Joe's Diner who uses her delicious creations to escape the realities of her abusive marriage and unplanned pregnancy.

Working alongside her at the diner are the endearingly geeky Dawn (Gabriella Marzetta) and full-of-attitude Becky (Dominique Kent), Jenna's two closest friends and confidants, who, while supporting Jenna, are also looking add fulfillment and excitement to their own lives. Jenna's already complicated situation becomes even more so when feelings spring up between her and her doctor, the goofy and charming Dr. Pomatter (David Socolar). Questions of what it means to be happy, and finding the balance between sacrifice and dreams run through this beautifully crafted show.

This cast is filled with top-tier singers and comedians. Every joke in this smooth as butter book by Jessie Nelson lands and then some, with moments of fantastic physical comedy almost acrobatic. Phoning it in? Never heard of it. From Gabriella Marzetta's 'When He Sees Me' to Brian Lundy's (Ogie) 'Never Ever Getting Rid of Me', to even the elements of farce sprinkled throughout Jisel Soleil Ayon and David Socolar's sultry 'Bad Idea', each of these actors knows exactly how to hit the audience's collective funny bone. Michael R. Douglass' one liners as diner-owner Joe, and Andrew Burton Kelley over-exaggerated swaggering as diner cook Cal, elicit an audience response every time they are front and center on stage.

But, of course, comedy is only a part of what goes into Waitress' recipe for success. Another part of that success hinges on the cast being able to access and project the massive amounts of heart baked into the center of this show. But, not to worry, because this cast has it in spades. Jisel Soleil Ayon has an inherently dreamy quality about her that lends itself naturally to Jenna. Her 'She Used to Be Mine' is a showstopper, and her scenes with Shawn W. Smith (a fantastic Earl) are as heartbreaking as her scenes with David Socolar are heartwarming. Dominique Kent brings the house down with 'I Didn't' Plan It', and each member of the cast has chemistry with one another. The show's serious moments are just as affective here as its lighthearted ones.

With a sprinkle of friendship, a dash of gorgeous music, a handful of humor, and plenty of empowerment, the national tour of Waitress is a must-see.

For tickets and information, click HERE!

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