Sara Bareilles’ musical Waitress opened on April 24th to great reviews. The movie that the musical is based on was not originally a big hit, but it eventually developed a cult following. With Broadway’s first all-female creative team, the women-centric story was recreated. Waitress previewed in Boston at the American Repertory Theater to sold-out shows. Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles wrote the outstanding score and released many of the songs with her own voice well before Waitress moved to Broadway. These songs enticed all of her fans to the box office to hear them live on a Broadway stage.

The storyline is based on an abused woman who gets pregnant and has an affair with her doctor. It is empowering to watch Jenna find the power within herself to take charge of her life and to better the life of her unborn child. This original score is beautiful, and many of the audience members were humming the tunes as they exited the theater.

The only real complaint about the show is the storyline of abuse and cheating. Jenna’s husband was much more abusive in the movie, which perhaps justified the cheating a bit more. This version of the show tones down the abuse with Earl breaking a guitar as his worst offense. The issue would not be solved with showing more offensive domestic violence onstage, but there is a lot of cheating going on in the show. Jenna cheats on her husband, Dr. Pommater cheats on his wife, and Becky is cheating on her husband. Is it justified? Or is it just the background to a story that eventually empowers the protagonist to find self-empowerment?

Bravo! Bravo to Jessie Mueller (Tony Award Winner for Beautiful). She is just so likeable. She becomes the everywoman, and the audience believes in her completely. You might think it is boring to watch someone make pies onstage, but you would be wrong. Mueller is mesmerizing as she is stirring the ingredients together, and her voice is so powerful that the audience is dead silent while she sings. She is especially dynamic tearing apart “She Used to Be Mine.” In other scenes, Mueller is hysterically funny, like in the duet “Bad Idea” with Drew Gehling. The two of them then follow up the fun with “You Matter to Me,” which was one of the strongest moments in the show.

Christopher Fitzgerald steals the spotlight in every scene. He is so funny as Ogie, a new boyfriend for one of the waitresses at the diner. Completely unexpectedly, Fitzgerald actually breaks out into Irish step dancing. He deserves the Tony nomination that he received, and he gave those Hamilton men a run for their money. Keala Settle and Kimiko Glenn (Brooke Soso from Orange Is the New Black) are both outstanding as Dawn and Becky. Both of them knock their solos out of the park. No one will forget their voices for a long time.

Waitress was nominated for the following Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Jessie Mueller), and Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role (Christopher Fitzgerald).

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