Broadway Review: Waitress

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There are few things I love more than a good Broadway musical. My first experience was back in middle school when, on our annual family trip to New York, my father surprised us with front row seats to Cats.

I was hooked.

The next year, he got us tickets to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. No offense to the immensely talented Rockettes, but I was not into it. There’s just nothing like Broadway!

Sadly, it was many years until I saw my next show…and it was on my own dime. But since then, I’ve been lucky enough to see quite a few; Waitress is number 32 (not counting Off-Broadway and regional productions).

To some of you, that might seem like a lot, but new shows open all the time, and to me that shamefully low! The biggest barrier? Money, of course! My husband and I are saving to buy a house, so any spare pennies go right into savings. Imagine my delight when hubby suggested we go to a show for Valentine’s Day! I knew I liked that guy…

And not just any show: WAITRESS! I’ll admit that I watched the movie a few years back and didn’t immediately fall in love with it. However, as soon as I heard Sara Bareilles was attached to the project, I was all in.

Truth be told, I already had most of the lyrics memorized before walking into the theater, but it was still a completely different experience than listening to a recording.

In case you’re completely unfamiliar…

WAITRESS tells the story of Jenna – a waitress and expert pie maker – who dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.

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I had heard that there was some magic to Jessie Mueller, and that was not an overstatement. Her voice is extremely unique, and, while I’ll admit it wasn’t immediately my cup of tea, she makes you feel every feeling in whatever she’s performing. That’s a real gift!

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Also great?  The relationship between the leading ladies of the show. Sure, sometimes their advice is a bit questionable, but who hasn’t doled out iffy advice to their girlfriends at some point? They serve as each others’ support system through some very difficult circumstances, and it’s always refreshing for women to be shown caring for each other.

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Another highlight was Christopher Fitzgerald’s performance of “Never Ever Getting Rid of Me.” It was already one of my favorite songs going in, but his performance was so energetic and endearing, it made me love it and him all the more.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good. William Popp as Jenna’s husband, Earl…ay. It’s always tricky to tell whether it’s the actor or director at fault, but I cringed a little every time he spoke. I suppose that’s the idea when you’re playing an alcoholic who abuses his wife, but it all felt very forced and over-the-top.

All in all, though, my husband and I really enjoyed the show. There’s plenty of comic relief to balance out the sometimes heavy-feeling story. And, once again, the music… LOVE!

It was actually just announced that Sara Bareilles herself will be replacing Jessie Mueller next month. While I’m so thankful I got to see the person who originated the role, I’m off to buy tickets to see it again.

Happy show-going!

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