Today’s special: A Taste of Something Special Pie. Start with catchy music from Sara Bareilles. Add in an engaging script from Jessie Nelson. Next, throw in a healthy handful of comedy for zest. Finish with an incredible cast. Bake for 2 hours and 45 minutes (including intermission).
Okay, okay, okay, I’ll admit that was a little cheesy but I couldn’t resist! Guess I’ll leave the pies to Jenna and the rest of the colorful characters that bring together this truly delightful musical that’s not afraid to dig into its heavy subject matter but presents it in such a palatable and engaging manner. Waitress has you laughing through one scene and then unapologetically thrusts you smack dab in the middle of domestic abuse. Honestly, that’s one of the things I appreciated most about this show as a whole though. It feels so realistic in its presentation and treatment of this sensitive storyline. Jenna is stuck in a horrible situation, trying to make it through day by day with a little help from her friends and pouring her troubles out into each pie she bakes like she learned from her mom. It’s almost easy to forget what her home life is like until her husband Earl tromps into the scene and saps all the positive emotions right out of the scene.
It’s a very delicate balance but the groundbreaking all-female creative team behind Waitress make it look so easy with this multi-layered musical full of such incredible heart and soul. I loved this show from start to finish. By intermission, I was looking for my roommate to take our usual selfies and asking when were going to come back for round two.
This whole cast truly impressed me. The show is anchored by Desi Oakley who brings such strength to Jenna but also so much vulnerability especially in her standout solo “She Used To Be Mine” which is easily one of my favorites off the cast album in general. The entire audience loved Desi’s rendition of this particular song so much all of the applause delayed the show for a good thirty seconds. She is incredible! I was completely enamored with her whole performance. Her chemistry with her costars was so fun and believable, especially with the other leading ladies of the show.
Lenne Klingaman is such a fun Dawn. She brings the awkwardness of this OCD and anxiety ridden character and makes it completely charming. The sassy Becky is brought to life by Charity Angél Dawson who knocks her solo “I Didn’t Plan On It” right out of the park and way up into the stratosphere. Desi, Lenne, and Charity in their scenes together have the same quick banter that you’d expect from people who have been friends for a long time and there’s no doubt this trio really care about each other and are having fun time up on that stage living in the shoes of these characters.
I’d be remiss not to mention a couple of the men in the company too. Though Larry Marshall (Joe) and Nick Bailey (Earl) are both noteworthy in the cast, there’s a couple of other people I’d really like to highlight. The first is Bryan Fenkart who plays Dr. Pomatter, the new-to-town gynecologist, who is so delightfully funny and awkward all at the same time.
Bryan’s performance is so endearing and his comedic timing is just perfect. Honestly, you can’t help but love him. Don’t even get me started on the way he sings “You Matter to Me” with such honest emotion and earnest affection. It’s one of the most beautiful moments of the show.
For anyone who knows the cast album or knows the show though, you’ll know the real scene stealer is the over-the-top and rather ridiculous Ogie played here by Jeremy Morse.
Jeremy is one of those actors that’s just not afraid to embarrass himself for a laugh. Where Bryan wins for the witty dialogue, Jeremy takes the crown for physical comedy. whether it’s the clog dance in the middle of his big number, “Never Ever Getting Rid of Me” or the slips and falls Ogie has pursuing Dawn early into the musical. His performances of his spontaneous poetry? Also pure gold. Jeremy is such a delight to watch and I’d feel bad for him due to second-hand embarrassment if I wasn’t too busy laughing so hard. Even if you don’t like the rest of the show, Jeremy’s presence on stage I’m confident will at least make you crack a smile.
It cannot be overstated how much fun I had watching this. From the first notes of “Opening Up” to the hopeful tones that round out “Everything Changes”, Waitress is such a good time that you won’t regret this night well spent at the theatre. I am so excited to go catch this again while it’s here at Pantages Hollywood through August 26th.
If you get there early, make sure to snag a little pie either from inside the theatre ($10 for a small jar) or across the street at The Pie Hole which offers discounts if you have your ticket or your playbill.