A Review of Waitress

 

 

To start this review, I want to first off talk about the story behind this musical. Waitress is actually a film that was released in 2007, so the musical was adapted from this, which has toured America and is now here in the UK. The first show was performed in 2016. To briefly tell you about the story itself, it is centred on waitress and pie-maker Jenna, who is in a loveless marriage that further becomes complicated when she meets a handsome doctor. Her fellow waitresses, Becky and Dawn, help Jenna with friendship to overcome many of the challenges which she faces. According to the programme which you can purchase on the day of the performance, this is the ‘first female-led creative team to bring a musical to Broadway and then the West End’, consisting of Sara Bareilles who wrote the music and lyrics for the show, Diana Paulus as director, Lorin Latarro as choreographer, and Jessie Nelson who wrote the book. Bareilles has a singing career of her own and opened for acts including Maroon 5 and James Blunt. The film writer and director was Adrienne Shelly, who was pregnant at the time of writing this. According to the programme, Shelly used the main character of Jenna to most likely express her own feelings towards her unborn baby, believing ‘she was determined to give a brutally honest account, even if it meant breaking a few taboos’, such as the stereotypical view that women should have no fear and should always be happy about having a baby. After her initial anxieties, she said she had ‘an unconditional sort of love’ for her baby, and that ‘it does change your life in a beautiful way’, which can also be seen through Jenna. 

 

When you enter the doors of the theatre from outside, yoy are greeted to the smell of pies, which is of course intended. This is because the theatre sells mini versions of them in the foyer as soon as you enter, with a variety of flavours, but costing a whopping seven pounds so we passed. We proceeded to go to the upper circle where we purchased 35-pound tickets for. However, this was blocked and everyone who had booked here was told that we had been upgraded for free, obviously a fantastic start to the night before the show has even started! The view from our seats was fantastic, as I show you below:

The performance itself did not disappoint. The stage layout when set for the diner scenes in my opinion was very effective, particularly through their use of props and even the background. The show is mainly set in a pie shop which mirrors the iconic American diner, known for sassy waitresses like the ones we see here. The singing was also amazing, with the powerful voices of Lucie Jones as Jenna, and Marisha Wallace who played Becky particularly standing out. Solo songs for Jenna really allowed Lucie Jones’ voice to shine, where she displayed her impressive vocal range. 

 

*SPOILERS HERE, PLEASE SCROLL DOWN*

 

Now, I am going to proceed with spoilers, because I would like to address specific scenes, especially the ending. A scene that stood out to me, not only because of its hilarious nature, but also the message it portrayed, was Act 2, Scene 2 where ‘Bad Idea’ was sung once again, and the three couples showcase their sexual intentions in a really fun way. The whole musical overall empowered women sexually by showcasing these sexual intentions, and with sexual actions, which I think is important to show. Another scene that stood out was where Jenna firstly tells her husband she is leaving him, shouting for the first time in this scene after she has had her baby, finally standing up for herself. She then a little later tells Dr. Pomatter that she can no longer pursue an affair with him either, instead embracing her girlfriends who have been there for her. This is a particularly feminist theme in terms of how it embraces the idea that women do not need a man to be happy, emphasised by the final scene where Jenna’s child has grown up, and Jenna is looking happier than ever without a man, but instead has her girlfriends surrounding her; It’s not a stereotypical love story. There is feminism even behind the stereotypical themes of women being weak and passive, shown through Jenna as a passive character throughout against her abusive husband Earl, but she subverts this by the end.  The motif of baking, incorporated into many different songs, and for many different scenes, was also a great layer to add to the show. Overall, Jenna is creating the recipe in each scene for her pie of happiness, and this is what she succeeds in by the end; one without men, one with her career, her daughter, and her girlfriends. 

 

The only scene I was left with questionable feelings towards was the end scene, where the audience have gone from viewing Jenna having her child Lulu at the hospital, to the diner now being under Jenna’s management and her daughter having grown up. It is quite a huge jump for the audience and finishing the story felt a little rushed towards the end. It could perhaps be seen as being too big a jump in time. 

 

* YOU CAN RETURN!*

 

If you are in the mood for some comedy mixed with some fantastic songs, then go and see Waitress! I purchased my tickets from the official website, but another place I would recommend checking for cheap tickets is TodayTix, where they are currently selling £25 rush tickets for each day of performances.