BWW Review: WAITRESS: A NEW MUSICAL Serves Up A Bittersweet Slice of Life at the Washington Pavilion
Based on the 2007 cult movie by Adrienne Shelly staring Kerry Russell and Nathan Fillion, Waitress: A New Musical is a new Broadway adaptation, featuring an original score from 8 time Grammy nominiee Sara Bareilles. Like the movie, this is the story of Jenna, played by the sensational Bailey McCall, a young woman caught in a terrible marriage to Ed, a narcissistic, physically and psychologically abusive excuse of a man, played by Clayton Howe. Jenna is an accomplished and wannabe award winning pie baker at Joe's Pie Diner, where she also waits tables with her two BF's, Becky and Dawn, played by Kennedy Salters and Gabriella Marzetta.
Baking and inventing new pies (as well as crazy, accurate names for them) is what keeps Jenna happy and gives her something to look forward to everyday while coexisting with her horrible husband. She desperately wants to run from him, only to discover she's pregnant with his baby, leaving her feeling more trapped than ever. Soon she meets the sexy Dr. Pomatter, played by David Socolar. He falls head over heels for her as soon as he takes a bite of her Mermaid Marshmallow Pie and the two are instantly drawn to one another at her first appointment. The sex is fantastic and the chemistry and lust between them is palpable. Unfortunately, the last thing Jenna needs is another reason for Earl to come after her, yet that doesn't seem to stop the doctor and his patient from continuing their extra-marital arrangement. (It's probably wise to note at this point that the show is full of adult language and situations and a few other "affairs" and really isn't suitable for anyone under 13.)
Across the pie counter, equally intriguing relationships are developing between Becky (Salters) and diner cook, Cal, played by Jake Mills and the nerdy but adorable, Dawn (Marzetta) and her new beau, Ogie, the accountant/amateur magician and poet, played hilariously by Brian Lundy. He's like a cross between PeeWee Herman, Scotty McCreery and Howdy Doody all mashed up in a character you just can't help but adore. Marzetta is equally adorable in her quirkiness and between the two of them, the love and the laughs were pure perfection.
With a live onstage band and some clever rolling set pieces and kitchen carts, the action moves quickly and effortlessly from the diner to the doctor's office to Jenna and Earl's home, sometimes a little too quickly. And although the vocals and the band were both top notch, it was sometimes difficult to make out the words to the songs, mainly because the volume knobs seemed to be turned up to 11 on certain numbers. It's frustrating when you want so badly to hear the lyrics to a song only to have them come out garbled and unrecognizable. The songs and the story never really mesh into a cohesive musical that will have you humming the tunes as you leave theater. The standouts of the evening are the performers themselves, who embody the characters and the songs in their own unique ways.
Like a good pie, Jenna's life with her adorable baby girl (and without her abusive husband) turns out practically perfect in the end. And truly, what could be sweeter? As Jenna says , "Mama, it's amazing what baking can do?" So do yourself a favor and grab a slice of what the girls at Joe's Pie Diner are serving up at the Washington Pavilion this week. With two more shows, March 10 and 11, you could even go back for seconds!
For tickets and information, visit www.washingtonpavilion.org