BWW Review: WAITRESS on Tour Comes to San Antonio
Ever since WAITRESS first premiered at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2015 and soon after on Broadway in 2016, audiences have fled to see this wonderful show. The original movie opened in 2007 and was written by the late Adrienne Shelly. It became widely successful and soon after a creative team was assembled in 2013. Sara Bareilles was a star in her own right by this time and she is responsible for the wonderful music and lyrics of this well-done musical. With Jesse Nelson writing the book, she wrote the story using unfinished scripts by Adrienne Shelly to bring Ms. Shelly's voice into the project.
As WAITRESS opened in San Antonio, Texas at the Majestic Theatre this week, audiences greatly anticipated its arrival. Tickets have been selling well and audiences are raving about the ones on stage playing the strong female leads. The part of Jenna Hunterson was played by Broadway's Christine Dwyer who played such roles as Elphaba in WICKED and Maureen in RENT. As Dwyer took to the stage and belted out the opening song of the show, "What's Inside" it quickly gave the audience a glimpse at what was truly inside Dwyer and why she is perfect in the role of Jenna. Other songs that confirmed her talented included, "What Baking Can Do" and "A Soft Place to Land." But, when Dwyer took center stage and sang, "She Used to Be Mine," the audience was audibly moved and applauded her for a long time.
WAITRESS is a different kind of show in that the three main leads are all women who take bows as three strong women, representing many women in the world. The roles of the other two strong characters were played by Jessie Shelton (Dawn) and Maiesha McQueen (Becky). They held their own and shared such songs as "The Negative" and "A Soft Place to Land." McQueen and Shelton owned their roles and made the audience cheer for them throughout the show.
The role of Jenna's abusive husband Earl was played by Matt DeAngelis. An interesting fact: DeAngelis is the real-life fiancé of Dwyer who plays Jenna. The relationship onstage has to be one of trust and what better way to understand that trust then from a real-life happy couple. While DeAngelis was booed during curtain-call, he was also applauded for playing a bad guy so well.
An interesting and sweet moment in the show comes at the end when Jenna's now 4 year old daughter LuLu runs out and dances with the rest of the cast. In this particular production Jenna was played by Georgia Hallmark. Other shows Annie Crain will play the part. It's interesting to note that for the role of LuLu in the touring production of WAITRESS, the actress is chosen from local auditions held in the cities of the tour prior to the WAITRESS Tour's arrival. Both Hallmark and Crain are having the experience of a lifetime as they get to play along with some of Broadway's greats.
Also, of note in the current touring production of WAITRESS is that the actor is played by the one and only Richard Kline who's fame skyrocketed as he played opposite John Ritter in the popular show from the late 70's and early 80's called "Three's Company." Kline appeared as Ritter's character's best friend, Larry. Kline offered a very special soft spot as he played to role of Joe who appeared to be rough on the exterior but was really soft on the inside. Kline proved he has what it takes to perform onstage as he belted out, "Take if From an Old Man." Many audience members were noticeably mesmerized and enthralled as he sang. Kline really bought the part of Joe to the audience to hate and love him.
As WAITRESS continues to play at the Majestic Theatre, many more will come. If you are on the fence, take the leap and join the side that knows WAITRESS is a hit and entertaining for older audiences. Tickets can be purchased by going to the Majestic Theatre's website. Hurry because there are limited seats left.
PHOTO CREDIT: Phillicia Endelman