“Waitress” Serves Up Laughs, Heart and Pies at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota
The Broadway hit “Waitress” is on the road and they opened to a packed house on Friday night! The smell of fresh baked pies being sold in the lobby told you that you were in for a treat with this show.
Waitress is based on the 2007 movie written by the late Adrienne Shelly and the book by Jessie Nelson. The music and lyrics are by the multi-talented Sara Bareilles, who received a Tony nomination for best original score for the show.
Opening on Broadway in 2015, there have been several actress-singers playing the lead character of Jenna including Barielles, American Idol alums Jordin Sparks and Katharine McPhee. Pop singer Jason Mraz has also starred in the Broadway musical. The show is currently running on the West End in London and just closed after five successful years at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in New York. A perfect time for the National Touring Company to bring the show around the country for more people to experience.
The ensemble cast for this production makes a great team for this show. Bailey McCall is Jenna, the pie baking waitress married too young to Earl, who is abusive and childish. Jenna dreams to start a new life but complications arise making it seem like it is impossible. Her co-workers at Joe’s Pie Diner, Becky and Dawn, keep a spark of hope alive for Jenna as they get through their shifts. Becky, played by Kennedy Salters, is sassy and cool and is a powerful singer. Gabriella Marzetta as the ditzy Dawn is sweet and her character makes for some great comedic moments. The trio work for the gruff Cal played by Jake Mills, who keeps them running to serve their customers.
Jenna meets Dr. Pomatter, played by David Socolar, who gives her a feelling she has never felt before. Meanwhile, her co-workers have some new experiences of their own on the dating scene. The shy Dawn meets the super-nerdy Ogie played with comic precision by Brian Lundy. Jenna’s selfish husband Earl, played by Clayton Howe, pulls off the bad guy part with perfection. There’s Joe, the old curmudgeon owner of the diner, who is picky about his foods not touching each other. He is played with skill by actor Michael R. Douglass, who will surprise you in the end! Nurse Norma, played by Jerica Exum, is a hoot that will give you a belly laugh or two.
The musical numbers are fresh and fun! “Opening Up”, “Bad Idea” and “Take It From an Old Man” all shine. Bailey McCall’s solo, “She Used to Be Mine”, is sweet and her beautiful voice rang throughout the Van Wezel. The live band playing throughout the show on stage right does an amazing job of keeping everything in time. The thirteen-member ensemble cast does a great job from dancing to playing customers in the diner adding realism to the diner set. A fun, poignant look at life, you leave the theatre just plain feeling good!
Don’t miss “Waitress” this weekend! There are two performances daily, matinee and evening on Saturday & Sunday! Tickets are at www.vanwezel.org
Photos by Jeremy Daniel Top Photo: Bailey McCall as Jenna, and Company in the National Tour of WAITRESS