Drama Doodles: Waitress Finds a Soft Place to Land on Broadway tonight

There’s something special being cooked up at Joe’s Pie Diner. Although the wafting scent of apple pie greets audiences as they enter the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, the real magic happens on stage as Tony Award winning leading lady Jessie Mueller leads a strong company in the deeply moving musical Waitress. After several years of development, including a pre-Broadway run at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Mass. last summer, the new musical officially opens on Broadway tonight, April 24.

Waitress, which was adapted from the 2007 Adrienne Shelly film, is already selling out through the rest of the year. But in addition to being well on its way to becoming Broadway’s next blockbuster, Waitress is also making history due to its distinction of having women in all key creative roles. In their Broadway debuts, Grammy-nominated songwriter Sara Bareilles serves as the composer and lyricist and noted screenwriter and director Jessie Nelson is responsible for the book. The musical is directed by Diane Paulus and choreographed by Lorin Latarro.

The heartbreaking and uplifting story of Jenna, a waitress stuck living in the South in a loveless marriage and a seemingly unimportant life, is relatable and raw and Mueller’s performance as Jenna is easily deserving of a Tony nomination. Bareilles’ talents as a songwriter fit Mueller’s voice perfectly, especially in the profoundly emotional 11 o’clock number “She Used to Be Mine”, while the physical changes from the A.R.T with Latarro’s choreography make Jenna’s wild imagination come to life. Mueller, who has very little time offstage, carries every moment of the musical with grace.

Drew Gehling, who plays the quirky and endearing Dr. Pomatter, suits Mueller perfectly as a scene partner. Their chemistry is equally felt  in the upbeat “Bad Idea” and its reprise, during which the audience laughs and cheers, and the sentimental “You Matter To Me” leaves many in tears.

Tony nominee Keala Settle plays the brassy Becky and Broadway newcomer Kimiko Glenn plays the timid Dawn. As Jenna’s two best friends and co-workers, the trio joins forces in “A Soft Place to Land” leaving the audience silently captivated.

Two-time Tony nominee Christopher Fitzgerald, a stand-out in the production as the lovable and dorky Ogie, sings two of the show’s most light-hearted songs (“Never Ever Getting Rid of Me” and “Love You Like A Table”). Eric Anderson, who plays the straight-laced chef Cal, delivers one of the most profound lines of the musical and Dakin Matthews, who plays diner owner Joe, provides laughs while pulling on the heartstrings as a crusty old man. Tony nominee Nick Cordero plays Jenna’s abusive husband Earl so well that his final exit garners nightly cheers.

Even the ensemble is full of future stars including Jeremy Morse, who played Ogie in the A.R.T. production, and Molly Hager, who steps into the role of Jenna’s mother.

In this Drama Doodle, cartoonist Courtney Powitz conveys Jenna’s wistful hopefulness as she dreams of creating an award-winning pie that could afford her enough money to start a new life. For those who will be celebrating the Broadway opening with a slice of uniquely-named pie, may we suggest whipped cream on the side or a slice of tomato on its own plate?


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About Samantha S.

"I found the theatre and I found my home.” ― Audra McDonald

Comments are closed.