Review: Waitress

Waitress MUSICALORIGINAL BROOKS ATKINSON THEATRE 256 W. 47TH ST. WAITRESS - CAST Jessie Mueller Jessie Mueller as Jenna Keala Settle Keala Settle as Becky Kimiko Glenn Kimiko Glenn as Dawn Drew Gehling Drew Gehling as Dr. Pomatter Nick Cordero Nick Cordero as Earl Dakin Matthews Dakin Matthews as Joe Eric Anderson Eric Anderson as Cal Christopher Fitzgerald Christopher Fitzgerald as Ogie Charity Angel Dawson Charity Angél Dawson as Nurse Norma Charity Angel Dawson Charity Angél Dawson as Ensemble Thay Floyd Thay Floyd as Ensemble Molly Hager Molly Hager as Ensemble Aisha Jackson Aisha Jackson as Ensemble Claire Keane Claire Keane as Lulu McKenna Keane McKenna Keane as Lulu Jeremy Morse Jeremy Morse as Ensemble Stephanie Torns Stephanie Torns as Ensemble Ryan Vasquez Ryan Vasquez as Ensemble Henry Gottfried Henry Gottfried Swing Max Kumangai Max Kumangai Swing Ragan Pharris Ragan Pharris Swing Ragan Pharris Ragan Pharris as Jenna (Understudy) Ragan Pharris Ragan Pharris as Dawn (Understudy) Stephanie Torns Stephanie Torns as Jenna (Understudy) Stephanie Torns Stephanie Torns as Dawn (Understudy) Charity Angel Dawson Charity Angél Dawson as Becky (Understudy) Molly Hager Molly Hager as Becky (Understudy) Henry Gottfried Henry Gottfried as Dr. Pomatter (Understudy) Henry Gottfried Henry Gottfried as Earl (Understudy) Henry Gottfried Henry Gottfried as Ogie (Understudy) Ryan Vasquez Ryan Vasquez as Dr. Pomatter (Understudy) Ryan Vasquez Ryan Vasquez as Earl (Understudy) Max Kumangai Max Kumangai as Joe (Understudy) Max Kumangai Max Kumangai as Cal (Understudy) Jeremy Morse Jeremy Morse as Ogie (Understudy) Thay Floyd Thay Floyd as Cal (Understudy) WAITRESS - MUSIC CREDITS Person Placeholder Nadia DiGiallonardo Musical Director Person Placeholder Nadia DiGiallonardo Music Supervisor Adam Michael Kaufman Adam Michael Kaufman Associate Music Supervisor John Miller John Miller Music Coordinator Person Placeholder Nadia DiGiallona

Pop-rock singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles has succeeded where several of her Billboard chart colleagues have failed – she has written the score for a musical that is not only catchy and tuneful, but also serves the storytelling in a coherent and cogent way. Waitress tells the story of Jenna (the ever-luminous Jessie Mueller), a waitress and expert pie maker in a small southern town, who married far too young to a man she doesn’t love. Can she escape him, and if so, how?

Both the character of Jenna and Bareilles’s rich and zesty songs are terrific vehicles for Mueller’s detailed, heart-felt acting and liquid gold voice. Her Jenna feels incredibly approachable – she feels like an earth mother in spite of the many things holding her down. And there are few Broadway stars who can match the depth of feeling she brings to her singing.

The generous spirit of Waitress allows for more than one terrific performance, and the show’s other marvel is Christopher Fitzgerald as Ogie, a highly eccentric chap in love with one of Jenna’s fellow waitresses. His big number “Never Getting Rid of Me” is utterly amazing – he communicates his character’s awkwardness and quirkiness with dancing, singing and acting that has to be called virtuoso. Stunning.

Jessie Nelson’s book goes bright and big, which is what’s called for in telling this largely joyous story. Even though director Diane Paulus – who usually favors heightened theatricality – delivers one of her most “realistic” productions to date, Waitress makes it clear that she is well aware of the realities of 2016 Broadway, where boldness is rewarded. All in all, one of the most engaging and fun musicals of the season. Recommended.

For tickets, click here.

To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.

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