Brooks Atkinson Theatre, London
The musical by Sara Bareilles which chronicles the life of Jenna, a lady who bakes her feelings into pies as she finds out she is pregnant with the child of the husband she does not love, has been receiving rave reviews on Broadway and is set to take the West End by storm in early 2019.
Waitress is based on the 2007 film of the same name which was written by late comedic legend Adrian Shelley and is a quirky, heartfelt show which transfers wonderfully to the stage. As you walk into the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, you are greeted with the sweet smell of baking as you are transported to a small diner in rural America. What comes next is a two-hour journey of heartfelt songs, beautiful performances and a reminder of how special friends and family can be.
A great aspect of this show is how the ensemble is a being of its own. There aren’t any step-out moments or solo performances. Instead, they come together to create fluid movements and at times form Jenna’s mind itself. This again makes the show feel and look very connected and mirrors the relationship Jenna has with her colleagues and loyal diner patrons.
Natasha Yvette Williams and Katie Lowes are fantastic as Becky and Dawn, both giving humorous and vocally powerful performances. One of the most comedic characters is Ogie, played by Adam Shapiro who is making his Broadway debut alongside his wife Katie. The pair is fantastic together and Adam perfectly makes Ogie, who is essentially a stalker, a likeable character.
Original Broadway cast member, Drew Gehling has returned to the show to give a down to earth, sensitive and charmingly awkward performance as Dr Pomatter, the married gynaecologist who develops a relationship with leading lady, Jenna.
From the moment Jenna is revealed to the audience, Nicolette Robinson is magnetic. In her Broadway debut she gives an outstanding performance filled with nuance and honesty. What’s refreshing is that although Jenna is facing some really tough issues, Nicolette never allows her to be a victim; instead she is resilient and inspiring. The stand out performance is by far Nicolette’s spine-tingling rendition of She Used to be Mine, in which she sweeps through the entire spectrum of emotions, starting calmly and contemplative and eventually showing her anger at the situation she’s in. The gradual and subtle build is masterful to watch and pure theatrical magic.
Waitress is a pleasant detour from the big, flashy musicals that dominate much of Broadway and the West End and is instead, a warm, cosy and truthful show. With Waitress, you can have your pie and eat it, so don’t miss your chance!
photo credit: Marc J Franklin