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Waitress: A Review

Jaime Bangert, Staff Writer

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I’ll start out by saying that I’ve seldom been one to get all emotional at a live performance– or anything for that matter.

courtesy of https://theknow.denverpost.com/2017/12/21/waitress-the-musical-denver-review/170816/

With that being said, The Buell Theatre’s December production of Waitress was one instance where I had tears streaming down my face for the last couple songs. Deeply moving and poignant, Waitress struck me to my core.

Based off of Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 indie film about a pregnant, pie-making waitress in a loveless marriage in the deep South, the stage adaptation made history, opening as the first Broadway musical to have a female writer, director, composer, and choreographer. It tackles issues like infidelity, toxic relationships, and motherhood through Jenna (the protagonist) and her fellow waitresses, Becky and Dawn. But more than that, it tells a story about self discovery, about becoming your true self, and about making things work in spite of all that’s going on around you.

Despite my qualms with The Buell Theatre not accommodating all of it’s seats with a good view or adequate acoustics, I can assuredly say that not just those seated in the “golden circle” enjoyed the performance to the fullest. In addition, the set stayed true to the original Broadway production, ran smoothly, and complemented the fluidity of the performance. As far as character interactions go, I found scenes with Earl (the abusive husband) and Jenna (played by Nick Bailey and Desi Oakley respectively) to be the most poignant. The first scene when Earl walks into the diner and Jenna goes from outgoing and charismatic to subordinate and fearful had me frozen with awe at just how well those emotions were conveyed. Then, around “You Will Still Be Mine,” Earl epitomizes the clingy, toxic, but pitiable partner, one that you know you should leave but simply can’t bring yourself to in fear that they will end up hurting themselves– something many of us may relate to.

Regarding the  characters themselves, Ogie (Dawn’s love interest played by Jeremy Morse) was by far the most entertaining. Definitely a high energy, and I mean high energy character, Jeremy Morse did a terrific job of bringing that quirky-but-lovable character to life, striking us with a mixture of hilarity and awe in all the scenes where he was present. In addition, Dr. Pomatter (played by Bryan Fenkart) did an incredible job giving us that slightly nerdy and awkward but kind and gentle sort of guy that gave us insight into what Jenna was looking for in her life. Previously, Jason Mraz had played Pomatter on the national tour, and although his singing is top-notch, I found Morse to do a far better job as an actor.

Although Waitress stopped showing here in Colorado about a month ago, you can still catch the national tour coming to the east and west coasts in the coming months. If you get the chance, I’d highly recommend that you do so.

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Waitress: A Review