Waitress: One Delicious Slice of Pie
From the first note sung of this beautiful new musical, we know we are in for a mystical and creative piece of musical deliciousness. There, center stage, is Jessie Mueller as Jenna, the lovely lead character in Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson’s musical adaptation of Waitress making a pie. It opens with a beautiful and soulful ode to baking, or should I say, creating, ‘What’s Inside’, and we are instantly smitten. It’s a beautiful piece of non-classic Broadway songwriting, that floats and swirls through the Brooks Atkinson Theatre like an wonderful aroma. The harmonies and the melodies are just plain delectable. And this is just the beginning, and it gives us a good sense that the ingredients in this musical confection are going to be unique and emotionally rich in flavor and sound.
Jenna, played with perfection by Mueller, is a hard working waitress and pie maker at Joe’s Diner. Surrounded and supported by her fantastic co-workers; a magnificent Keale Settle as her feisty friend and fellow waitress, Becky, and an equally adorable Kimiko Glenn as the shy and sweet Dawn, these ladies are just plain wonderful. They are all trying to survive, while living life as best as they can and helping each other out as best as they know how. There is so much love and care in these ladies, that we can’t help join in. And the sweetness isn’t heaped on us to the point of diabetes, but measured and sprinkled on us in just the right amount, and balanced with a taste of realness and trouble. Rounding out the incredible cast is the perfect Eric Anderson as Cal, the bossy diner manager/cook and Dakin Matthews as Joe, the very grumpy owner and everyday customer of the diner. He is also the seer of all things Jennie, and her biggest pie fan, and for that, we just can’t help loving him, just like Jenna. He also has one of the sweetest numbers in act two, ‘Take it From a Old Man’ that warmed my heart. But the real stand out, and show stopper of the group, is Christopher Fitzgerald, as the love struck Ogie. He brings the house down with his enthusiastic and hysterical rendering of ‘Never Ever Getting Rid of Me’. Each of the supporting cast are given their moments to shine as friends, coworkers, and most importantly, caring human beings. And here is part of the joy of this musical, that even in the moments of darkness and pain, the love of these characters infuses the room with something similar to the warm home-cooked smell of fresh baked pie. We just feel good being there.
Of course, we also have the men of Jenna’s life, her no good husband, Earl, played devilishly (and maybe a touch too stereotypically) by Nick Codero and the quirky and charming married Dr. Pomatter, played with a goofy and lovable demeanor by Drew Gehling. Did I mention how adorable he is? I couldn’t remember from the film how this all was going to turn out in the end, although I knew it was going to be a happy ending. All that I did know was that I was totally enjoying the baking time, and when that timer rang that this inventive pie of a show was done, I can only tell you how delicious it all was. I believe we all left with a wonderful feeling of happiness in our hearts, just like after eating a good ol’ piece of mom’s apple pie.
Waitress The Musical : Credits Based on the film written by Adrienne Shelly; Book by Jessie Nelson; Music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles; Directed by Diane Paulus
Cast Jessie Mueller as Jenna, Eric Anderson as Cal, Nick Cordero as Earl, Christopher Fitzgerald as Ogie, Drew Gehling as Dr. Pomatter, Kimiko Glenn as Dawn, Dakin Matthews as Joe and Keala Settle as Becky; Also Charity Angél Dawson, Thay Floyd, Molly Hager, Aisha Jackson, Jeremy Morse, Ragan Pharris, Stephanie Torns and Ryan Vasquez