Review by: Paul Towers, 27/2/19
Waitress by Jessie Nelson (book) and Sara Bareilles (music & lyrics)
Based upon the motion picture written by Adrienne Shelly
Adelphi Theatre, London from 8 February 2019
“laugh out loud, emotional.”
I am not sure exactly what I was expecting from Waitress, the musical. But it sure wasn’t the laugh out loud, emotional production currently running at The Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End.
This is the heart-warming story of three women who work in Joe’s Pie Diner somewhere in the deep south. The only redeeming quality about this archetypal American eatery is that its pies are the absolute cream of the crop. And this is down to the imagination and skills of pie maker Jenna.
Jenna (Katherine McPhee) is in an abusive relationship with Earl (Peter Hannah); Becky (Marisha Wallace) is her co-worker and is looking for lurve!; Dawn (Laura Baldwin) is the geeky virgin, too shy to talk to any guy. All three ladies have great singing voices. Marsha Wallace was, unsurprisingly, playing Effie in Dreamgirls recently while Katherine McPhee was an America Idol finalist and successful recording artist. Laura Baldwin is just a consummate musical theatre professional.
The script, like the very best of Corrie, veers skilfully between laugh out loud one liners to heart rending sobbing. The soundtrack superbly matches the emotions with the stand out number for me being She Used To Be Mine which earned McPhee a well deserved standing ovation halfway through the second half.
High physical comedy is provided by Dr Pomatter (David Hunter) and Ogie (30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer making his West End debut)
The set by Scott Pask rolls in and out to move the action from the diner to the Doctor’s office to Jenna and Earl’s shabby home with ease. An on stage band provides a nice deep sound to the production.
Director Diane Paulus has created a beautifully rounded piece of theatre that works on so may levels and leaves you with a warm glow as you exit the heavily themed foyer of the Adelphi