Alex Reviews "Waitress: The Musical"
A musical with a cookbook dedicated to recipes in the story and sold as memorabilia in the lobby? “Waitress” is the kind of production that allows that situation to be checked off the “Now I’ve Seen Everything” list in my life, and I am extremely happy to do so.
The story (taken from the Keri Russell film of the same name) of a small town worker at a local diner, “Waitress” deals with issues of unplanned pregnancy, infidelity, and finding one’s place in this world, and right from the opening, the musical does a fantastic job of showcasing the depth of talent this cast contains. However, Desi Oakley as Jenna (the titular waitress) grows the character throughout from arguably the least interesting piece of the show to a demonstration of female empowerment at its climax. Beyond that, this entire cast absolutely executes every role to near perfection with the only note to the contrary for me being the singing of Bryan Fenkart as Dr. Pomatter (who becomes the object of Jenna’s affection), but the other side of that is his acting, which might be the strongest of the group. As part of a group, his voice blends effortlessly with the other performers, but it is his isolated voice that struggles slightly. Perhaps it has more to do with the awe-inspiring vocal work by the other cast mates that gives this a false flaw, but it was still noticeable. With the performances put forth by Lenne Klingaman, Charity Angel Dawson, Ryan G. Dunkin, and Jeremy Morse, to name just a few, that talent fills the stage to an almost cascade of music off of the stage. From a technical standpoint, Scott Pask deserves some special recognition for proving the axiom, “Less is more” with his set designs. With some of the simplest designs I have seen in a stage production, it perfectly accentuates the performances without overwhelming or falling short in any scene.
While the story is interesting, it is very targeted to an audience that enjoys shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy”. At times, I felt that I might be an unwelcome guest to the source material; however, the narrative conveys exactly the intended message of overcoming circumstances to achieve happiness. Specifically speaking, Jenna begins the story with an unwanted pregnancy to an unloving husband gives a clear relation to a quick flashback of her mother being accosted by Jenna’s abusive father and coping with baking as an outlet which she can turn into a positive choice with her daughter later on.
The music carries the production from beginning to end and makes “Waitress” a must-see for any fan of entertainment. It is funny yet heavy and never fails to enjoyable…even to those of us outsiders.