Waitress

‘WAITRESS’: (left to right) Keala Settle, Jessie Mueller & Kimiko Glenn. Photo: Joan Marcus

 

 

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WAITRESS
Book by Jessie Nelson
Music & lyrics by Sara Bareilles
Based on the motion picture by Adrienne Shelly
Choreography by Lorin Latarro
Directed by Diane Paulus
Brooks Atkinson Theatre
256 West 47th Street
(877-250-2929), www.WaitressTheMusical.com

 

By David NouNou

Formulated with flour, baked with butter and sprinkled and seasoned with sugar are not only the ingredients of the pies that are baked in Waitress. They are also the ingredients of the show itself and showered all over with love.

Based on the 2007 movie of the same name, Waitress easily translates to the musical formula and is hugely influenced from a female perspective because its creators, book, score and direction, are all women. If you recall the 1970s sitcom “Alice” with Linda Lavin, and Mel’s Diner, it had a feminist point of view that was refreshing for its day. Waitress has updated that version and the notion women can ultimately have and do it all.

The indefatigable Jessie Mueller is Jenna, working in a diner in the American South. She is in a loveless marriage with her abusive husband Earl (Nick Cordero). Her gift is making the pies her mother taught her. In this diner, instead of the gruff and lovable cook Mel and the two besties: loudmouthed Flo and dimwitted Vera, we now have the gruff and lovable cook Cal (Eric Anderson). The besties are loudmouthed Becky (Keala Seattle) and naïve Dawn (Kimiko Glenn), both of whom are there to support Jenna during her destructive marriage and her unplanned pregnancy.

Also on hand is the handsome and married gynecologist, Dr. Pomatter (Drew Gehling), with whom Jenna has an affair during her pregnancy. The ever lovable showstopper Christopher Fitzgerald as Ogie, pursuing Dawn, and the curmudgeonly Joe, owner of the restaurant, are the characters who round out this talented cast.

The book by Jessie Nelson is serviceable; the score by Sara Bareilles is not very compelling considering the best song in the show is given to a secondary character, the showstopper for Ogie entitled “Never Ever Getting Rid of Me.” The rest are interchangeable ballads. Diane Paulus keeps things moving, thanks in large part to the brilliant scenic designer Scott Pask. Although in this case the sets are not much to look at, but their seamless transitions keep the musical afloat and his backdrop landscape vistas are breathtaking.

Jessie Mueller is quickly rising in the ranks as a top, bona fide Broadway star. Having won the Tony Award for Beautiful just two years ago, she will be up again for best actress for the coveted role of Jenna. She is the magical sugar, butter and flour that makes this musical rise.

Keala Settle, as bestie Becky, is a delight and believable; she was one of two characters that made the musical Hands on a Hardbody bearable. Kimiko Glenn as Dawn gives more of a caricature than a performance.

The men run the gamut from dreamy to abusive bully. Drew Gehling as the gynecologist is a total dream; he is one of the good guys. Nick Cordero, who was brilliant in Bullets Over Broadway, here comes across as a Southern psycho bully; one really expected hisses from the audience at curtain call. There is the wonderful character actor Dakin Matthews as the curmudgeonly Joe and he makes his presence felt in every scene. The best for last is Christopher Fitzgerald as Ogie; there isn’t a thing this wonderful musical comic can’t do.

If you’re in the mood for a scrumptious piece of pie, why not try the big helpings you’ll get at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre? They will surely satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth.

 

Edited by Scott Harrah
Published April 27, 2016
Reviewed at press performance on April 26, 2016

 

Waitress

‘WAITRESS’: Jessie Mueller. Photo: Joan Marcus

Waitress

‘WAITRESS’: Nick Cordero & Jessie Mueller. Photo: Joan Marcus

Waitress

‘WAITRESS’: Kimiko Glenn & Keala Settle. Photo: Joan Marcus

Waitress

‘WAITRESS’: Nick Cordero & Jessie Mueller. Photo: Joan Marcus

Waitress

‘WAITRESS’: Drew Gehling & Jessie Mueller. Photo: Joan Marcus

Waitress

‘WAITRESS’: (Left to right) Ryan Vasquez, Charity Angél Dawson, Christopher Fitzgerald, Eric Anderson, Dakin Matthews & Molly Hager. Photo: Joan Marcus

Waitress

‘WAITRESS’: Christopher Fitzgerald, Kimiko Glenn & Aisha Jackson. Photo: Joan Marcus

Waitress

‘WAITRESS’: Kimiko Glenn & Christopher Fitzgerald. Photo: Joan Marcus

Waitress

‘WAITRESS’: Dakin Matthews & Jessie Mueller. Photo: Joan Marcus

'WAITRESS': (left to right) Jeffrey Morse, Christopher Fitzgerald, Kimiko Glenn & Aisha Jackson. Photo: Joan Marcus

‘WAITRESS’: (left to right) Jeffrey Morse, Christopher Fitzgerald, Kimiko Glenn & Aisha Jackson. Photo: Joan Marcus

Waitress

‘WAITRESS’: Drew Gehling & Jessie Mueller. Photo: Joan Marcus

'WAITRESS': Drew Gehling & Jesse Mueller. Photo: Joan Marcus

‘WAITRESS’: Drew Gehling & Jessie Mueller. Photo: Joan Marcus

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