Welcome to a quick review of Waitress the Musical at the Orpheum. Let’s get to it.
THERE ARE SOME FANTASTIC SONGS IN THIS SHOW
The music and lyrics for Waitress are by Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles, who you might recognize from big hits like “Love Song” and “Brave.” She’s much more of a writing genius than you could fully know from those radio staples, though. Her quick, winding wordplay, and where she chooses to place the rhyme in a phrase…it’s fresh and incredibly fun to listen to. She’s also a master of big emotion. Bareilles gives the characters powerful, vocally challenging stuff and this cast dutifully crushes it. Some standout songs for me were “I Didn’t Plan It,” the achingly pretty “A Soft Place to Land,” and the endearing “Take It from an Old Man.”
As for Bareilles outside of this musical, I’d recommend this collaboration with Leslie Odom Jr., and should you find yourself in need of catharsis, “Gravity” is a good one (not necessarily a deep cut, but still an all-time personal fave.)
THE THING ABOUT THE CAST
Early in the show, I was worried I’d be dealing with stereotypical, and cheesy characters. It would be understandable. Sometimes you have to establish the world of a show and recognize its inhabitants quickly. This cast could have left us standing at the surface, but with an awesome script in their hands, they each craft wonderful, hilarious character flourishes and quirks that add depth and make you fall in love. In the way they leave a room, in turning their heads, simply picking up something, or engaging in a face-off, they give you so many golden comedic moments, sometimes with acrobatic levels of commitment. And they don’t rush these moments—they get a chance to land and sit so you can really drink them in. The actors are having a blast, which means we have a blast.
They are equally effective in the dramatic scenes and while singing their faces off. They’re doing it all with so many variables; the props alone for this show are a lot (shoutout to the props team/run crew). The fun highs are stratospheric and the lows will make you want to punch a guy who’s just doing an excellent job of being a bad guy. You’re that invested.
One more note here: Toward the back end of Act 1, you’ll be given the gift of a character introduction that is the funniest and most charming sequence I’ve seen onstage in a while.
REMEMBER THE LOCAL LULU SEARCH?
The results are So. Dang. Adorable.
SPEAKING OF KIDS
I wouldn’t describe this show as entirely family-friendly. If you’re going into this knowing nothing of the plot, there’s some deep, difficult sadness, adult themes, and hypersexual moments that are probably best reserved for teens and older. Nothing super graphic happens, though.
I WAS DUMB AND WRONG
I confess that when I was offered tickets for this show, I wasn’t that excited to see it because I vaguely remembered the movie feeling like such a slog. The musical gives you jovial moments that the movie couldn’t. Great songs can do that. It would have been dumb of me to opt out and I’m so glad I gave it a chance. My friend and I laughed out loud a lot and were surprised to find tears welling up at other points. For all its wacky comedy, Waitress also delivers more heart than you can measure. It’s so worth it. If you have even an inkling of interest in live theatre do yourself a favor and go. It’s likely the only time you will ever be allowed to eat pie in your seat at the Orpheum.