Theatre Review: Waitress, Brooks Atkinson Theatre, NYC

I’ve always like Sara Bareilles. She has a beautiful voice and I think her songwriting is interesting and distinctive. So, seeing that she was starring in her own show, Waitress, which seems to have had some success already on Broadway (and with Jessie Mueller originating the role), was a good excuse to go.

I thought she did a great job in the role. The cast were wonderful. I liked the music, a lot, and found that the musical motif that continued through the show made sense. I thought the staging felt fresh, with the cast sometimes moving around their own set pieces, with musicians stepping forward onto the stage, a simple but malleable set.

Christopher Fitzgerald, in a comic role, and an original cast member, I gather, had the audience eating out of his hand, so much precision and timing in every moment of his performance. I’m sometimes put off by performances as showy as this, but he was just so funny, it worked.

I enjoyed seeing Chris Diamantopoulos, after remembering his manic role in the TV show Episodes… and he’s a fellow Canadian.

I thought the story was serviceable. Sometimes I wish that in adapting a script (this one from a movie), the creators would be satisfied to be inspired by the source material, and not follow it exactly. That one of the characters is married to someone disabled and decrepit was kind of weird and jarring. Will Swenson, in a thankless role, conveyed a feeling of actual domestic violence. But you could feel the discomfort from the audience too. Marrying such fantasy (pies, pies, pies!) with flashes of a reality of domestic violence didn’t really work for me. There were clashing visions of romance and love: the drudgery of marriage that requires extra-marital affairs to be bearable; a love at first sight that makes an affair acceptable even though the marriage sounded OK; a comic romance composed of meet-cute moments. I guess this all came from the movie, but I found it rather strange.

In any case, I loved the music, I loved Sara Bareilles and the whole cast, and it was a very enjoyable night out. I’m glad we saw it!

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