Waitress – UK Tour
Waitress the musical has all the ingredients for everything to work. Sugary sweet vocals accompanied by a brilliant on-stage band, and an incredibly stellar cast!
Directed by Diane Paulus and based upon the 2007 film by Adrienne Shelly, Waitress the musical tells the tale of Jenna Hunterson, an employee of Joe’s Pie Diner and other morally compromised characters who are searching for a more fulfilling life, and how they may find what they are seeking in the most unexpected places.
Kind natured, top baker Jenna, takes the ultimate test and unexpectedly discovers that she has a bun in the oven…and not the kind that she makes for a living. Desperate to escape a life of misery, and leave her good-for-nothing abusive husband Earl, She sets her sites on a pie contest with a life changing prize. Fundamentally, she finds the strength that she has been seeking when she realises that the new addition in her life, is the only love that she needs to get her through.
The quite lengthy first act, contained a whole host of musical songs by Grammy award winning songwriter and artist Sara Bareilles which hat explored the relationships between the characters and painted the picture perfectly of a struggling mum to be, with a array of unfulfilled dreams. I would say that a few of the songs / numbers felt quite similar and seemed to blend into one, which made them slightly undistinguishable and hard to recall, however there were a few main ones that stood out. The opening song ‘Whats inside’ as well as ‘A soft place to land’ were particular notable from the first half.
The set epitomised all things American diner which really brought life to the story and was clever maneuvered by the ensemble to create the different scenes throughout the production a credit to set designer Scott Pask.
It was nice to see that there were a few famous faces appearing in this production. Chelsea Halfpenny, as nice as pie leading lady Jenna Hunterson, gave an outstanding performance. She gave the perfect balance of heartache and humour that ensured her likability, and provided the perfect recipe for success for the audience. She has one of those voices that you can listen to all day!
Matt Jay-Willis, most famous for being in the successful noughties pop band Busted, took on a slightly different role, playing the awkward, shy gynaecologist DR. Pomatter. It was enjoyable hearing his voice in a different style of music and he performed the socially awkward, yet endearing character very well and his clumsy fumbling ways caught the attention of mum to be Jenna, as well as the audience.
Wendy Mae Brown, as Becky, and Evelyn Hoskins, as Dawn, were brilliant. They provided a lot of the necessary comic relief in this occasionally tense production. In Act Two, we saw both of the characters have a new lease of life and go on their journey of self discovery, whilst remaining the supportive friend to waitressing colleague Jenny. They were both equally funny and provided most of the witty one-liners in the show.
The emotional storyline exploring human frailty, sexual liberation and the horrors of domestic abuse was both harrowing and empowering. The amalgamation of gripping serious topics, alongside more lighthearted comedic and sweet romanticised musical numbers, provided the perfect balance. These two things wouldn’t often go hand in hand, but somehow this production does it very well, addressing important topical issues, whilst still allowing for a fun night at theatre.
Waitress is an excellent, multilayered, romantic musical comedy, that everyone needs a slice of! Showing at the Liverpool Empire Theatre – Monday 9th May – Saturday 14th May 2022.