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THEATRE - Waitress Doesn’t Dish Deep Enough

New Musical Has Heart But Misses Some Important Issues

Theatre Review by Jason Clevett (From November 2019 Online)
THEATRE - Waitress Doesn’t Dish Deep Enough: New Musical Has Heart But Misses Some Important Issues
THEATRE - Waitress Doesn’t Dish Deep Enough: New Musical Has Heart But Misses Some Important Issues

Based on the 2007 film, Waitress is playing until Sunday at the Southern Jubilee Auditorium before heading to Edmonton’s Jubilee Auditorium Nov 26th – Dec 1st. The Tony Nominated show debuted in April 2016 on Broadway and has an all-female creative team. The original music and lyrics by 7-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles ("Love Song," "Brave"), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam) and direction by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Pippin, Finding Neverland).

Waitress is the story of Jenna (Bailey Mccall), a waitress and pie maker dreaming of a better life and escaping her abusive marriage to Earl (Clayton Howe.) When she discovers she is pregnant, she plans to enter her pies into a contest whose prize money would allow her to leave.

What’s surprising, especially with a female creative team and how recently the show was created, is how problematic aspects of the show are. Jenna engages in an affair that is shocking in its ethical implications. Her friend and co-worker Becky (Kennedy Salters) is married to an invalid and embarks in her own sexual escapades. While it’s understandable to a degree why both women would seek having their needs met outside the relationship, it’s a weird feeling to be in an audience enthusiastically applauding something that’s frowned upon socially. As well "Never Getting Rid Of Me" comes across as borderline stalking. It makes for some moments that as an audience member had me and others in attendance shaking our heads.

That said, there is a lot more depth to the characters than in many other musicals. Jenna especially is a sympathetic character. Becky is the sassy friend without being a cliché. Dawn (Gabriella Marzetta) starts off promising – a moment where she looks in a mirror as her co-workers give her a predate makeover results in her saying "you made me almost pretty" is instantly connectable. By the second act the character is thrown under a bus as a cliché.

Overall, it’s an uneven show that could have been so much more in the story. The cast is phenomenal both vocally and in the choreography. It’s strong acting. A young band plays on stage and is incorporated into the show as background players in the diner. Bareilles’ songs are often catchy and fit with the story.

It’s easy to see why Waitress has become a popular show internationally. Despite the head shaking it’s a good show with flawed characters that are connectable. It just could have been so much more.

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Contributor Jason Clevett |

Locale Calgary |

Topic Broadway Across Canada | Theatre |


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