Fresh from Broadway, hit musical Waitress proves funnier and lighter than you might expect at the Adelphi Theatre
“Let’s see the next amazing thing baking does now”
True story, I didn’t love Waitress when I first saw it in my Broadway Blitz of 2016. But as it sometimes the way, upon listening to the cast recording again and then again, I fell for the show that way, and so was delighted with news of its UK premiere at the Adelphi Theatre.
To think of it as a big Broadway show is to misinterpret what it is trying to do though. Jessie Nelson (book) and Sara Bareilles’ (music and lyrics) adaptation of Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 indie flick is a subtler thing than much West End fare, an intimate story of pies, pregnancy and just how much we’ll put up with. Continue reading “Review: Waitress, Adelphi Theatre”
“I feel something needs to change”
It’s funny how your relationship to a show can change so dramatically. When I first heard Sara Bareilles’ concept album for her musical adaptation of Waitress
, I thought it was pleasant without being particularly memorable. And whilst seeing it on Broadway
, my mind got preoccupied with what I found to be pretty big issues in the book to the exclusion of pretty much everything else.
But getting the cast recording in my hand and spending a rainy afternoon just listening to it over and over, I realised I had missed out on just how musically special it is. The lushness of the harmonies flesh out the songs in the most gorgeous way imaginable and somehow, it feels easier ignore the apparently lifelong questionable decision-making of our heroine and her lack of agency.
Instead, the focus falls more gently on the luscious soundscape – from the intoned beginnings of “sugar, butter, flour” that open up ‘What’s Inside’ and then echo throughout the score, through the delicate beauty of Jessie Mueller, Kimiko Glenn and Keala Settle’s hushed harmonising on songs like ‘A Soft Place To Land’ that are as smooth as cake batter, to Mueller’s deliciously sweet but restrained duet with Drew Gehling on ‘You Matter To Me’.
Mueller channels the conflicted energy of the titular Jenna perfectly, building up to the quiet storm of the climactic ‘She Used To Be Mine’, one of those moments of sheer perfection, but Bareilles’ score has its lighter moments too, especially with her male characters. Christopher Fitzgerald’s indefatigable Ogie has lots of fun whether in ‘Never Ever Getting Rid Of Me’ or ‘I Love You Like A Table’, and Dakin Matthews’ Joe gets to dispense fatherly wisdom in the country-tinged ‘Take It From An Old Man’.
So now I’m thoroughly in love with Waitress and really want to see it again. Let’s hope those rumours of a West End transfer next week are rooted in some semblance of truth!
“She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie”
Hailed as the first Broadway musical with an all-female top-line creative team – music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, book by Jessie Nelson, choreography by Lorin Latarro, and direction by Diane Paulus – Waitress marks something of a watershed moment. And even if it based on a film, that film was also written by a woman, the late Adrienne Shelly. One might wish for a slightly more substantial slice of something to take that credit but it’s still a rather lovely thing, not least for the slices of pie available to buy in the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
Its saving grace is a superb leading performance from Jessie Mueller as Jenna, a waitress at Joe’s Pie Diner somewhere in the South in a town off of Highway 27. Married and pregnant, and not particularly happy about either, her dreams of opening her own pie shop (she bakes all 27 varieties on offer herself) seem increasingly far away. Until that is, a baking contest in a nearby county opens a window of opportunity, as does an affair with her unexpectedly handsome gynaecologist. Continue reading “Review: Waitress, Brooks Atkinson Theatre”