By: Thom Cooper
Some of my co-workers and I recently attended a production of WAITRESS, and JEEPERS! Did this show deliver!
The national tour of WAITRESS took to the road with a cast lead by Desi Oakley. Others in the cast include Charity Angel Dawson, Jeremy Morse and Larry Marshall, who had all performed in the Broadway production before hitting the road. And, while these actors may have more experience with the show, the entire cast seems like they have been together forever.
For those who don’t know, inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film of the same name, WAITRESS tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life. It is directed by Diane Paulus and features a Tony and Grammy award nominated score by Sara Bareilles, an American singer-songwriter, actress and author who has sold over one million albums and is known for several popular songs including “Love Song” and “Brave.”
The songs are catchy and fun, yet they really drive the production advancing the story in a way most musicals don’t. For example, in the song ‘”What Baking Can Do,” we see Jenna teaching us how she makes her pies, but as we listen to the lyrics, we discover how she she has dealt with life since childhood. “I can fix this. I can twist it into sugar, butter covered pieces. Never mind what’s underneath it. I have done it before. I’ll bake me a door to help me get through. I learned that from you Mama, it’s amazing what baking can do.” This show doesn’t waste your time. Each track takes you deeper into the character’s stories.
The designer’s work is fantastic as well. All of the elements from costumes to sound, set and lighting add to the magic of the evening. The fluidity of the set changes are fun to watch. Going from the diner to the doctor’s office and then to the home is just a fascinating turn of events. They are choreographed as much as the actor’s movements and while well done, they do not distract or take away from the performers.
Overall, the production was quite enjoyable. I will admit I have never seen the film, so I can’t compare the two. If the film is half as enjoyable as this tour, it would be worth seeing. But go out and see that live performance of WAITRESS. You’ll be happy you did.