Waitress - Review
Updated: Sep 28, 2019
Walking into the theatre to the overpowering sweet smell of pies baking followed by seeing a stage framed with cakes tells you to expect an overload of sugar for the evening which certainly comes through in the music but the story is much harsher.
Waitress tells the story of Jenna, stuck in an abusive relationship, pregnant, looking for a way out. She determines that entering a baking contest with a $20,000 cash prize will give her what she needs to escape.
The music in the show starts as fluffy and sweet to match the smell and there are some really enjoyable songs in the show. The music tends to be much more cheerful than the grittier content but the juxtaposition of the sweetness of the music with the pain in Jenna’s voice is powerful. At times Kat McPhee’s voice soars through the theatre and she had the audience captivated during “She Used to be Mine”.
She is supported by a stellar cast. Marisha Wallace, fresh from Dreamgirls, is a delight, once again showing off her incredible voice and under used comic timing. Laura Baldwin puts in a fabulous comic turn as the quirky Dawn. And Jack McBrayer puts in a scene stealing performance as the equally quirky Ogie.
The set deserves a special mention. The depiction of the diner off the highway is wonderful with the band cleverly situated on stage at the side of the diner. And there is some wonderful choreography involving several pies.
However, the show hinges on Jenna’s relationship with her husband Earl and the audience needs to understand how she is trapped in the relationship and understand her pain. Unfortunately a critical scene in act 1 between the two fell flat. Through the scene Jenna’s contempt for Earl is clear and she seems mostly bored rather than scared which prevented me being able to find morally questionable decisions made later acceptable. Because of this it takes a long time to feel for her and hence it’s much less engaging. Having said this I found the second half more emotional and gripping.
It’s certainly an enjoyable show with a great score and great performances. I wavered on whether this should get 3 or 4 but landed on a 3 Laura Michelle-Kelly star rating. Ultimately I didn’t care about the characters enough and I won’t be racing back to it anytime soon.
To see it go here for tickets: https://tickets.lwtheatres.co.uk/Waitress/