THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
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Waitress the Musical
Music & lyrics by Sara Bareilles, book by Jessie Nelson, based on the movie written by Adrienne Shelly
Adelphi Theatre, Strand, London
Until October 19, 2019
Reviewed by Alex Kolton
Something unforgettable is the sum of its many exceptional parts and the musical Waitress is a candy bowl of stellar talent. The musical's opening night attracted glitterati including Michael Caine, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Beverley Knight and a very gorgeous Cuba Gooding Jr who railed with laughter as he watched.
It was up in the air as to how a British audience would embrace the familiar theme of small-town America waitress Jenna, in a rocky marriage dreaming of escaping by way of her pie baking talent. She finds herself pregnant and having an affair with her gynecologist Dr. Pomatter played by David Hunter executing a pristine American accent and outstanding physical choreography. In today's world where the political headlines are so intensely personal and the mean streets are less then heavenly, a somewhat predictable American happy ending was well received, rather reassuring like an episode of Friends. The uncomplicated plot lets the talent shine.
The film came first in 2007, written by Adrienne Shelly, an established, multi-talented and bright glowing star whose life was tragically taken in horrific circumstances. The movie Waitress was posthumously released and then came the musical, eventually finding its way onto Broadway. Sara Bareilles composed the music and wrote the lyrics for which she was nominated for a Tony and a Grammy award.
The legendary director Diane Paulus, only the third female director to win a Tony, seemingly agonized over the thinnest of details producing exceptional scene work and extruding a litany of audience emotions. The well-practiced choreography is precise with baking ingredients being dumped into bowls just so, and swings hitting their marks with perfection handing off props.
The powerhouse lead Katharine McPhee, you might remember her from American Idol in 2007, was never tiring to watch, in fact I couldn't take my eyes off of her. Her voice has great range and in particular the song 'She Used to Be Mine', penetrated right to the soul.
Waitress will do lots of numbers in the West End and have a long and well-attended run.