The Adelphi Theatre has closed its shoe making factory and opened-up its American Pie Diner, as the Broadway hit musical Waitress has come to London. But for how long? It was a sad site to see that the box office was still selling tickets 15 mins before their official opening performance. Dianne Paulus, the director, has accumulated all the high end ingredients to make one hell-of-a-pie – from an all female led, award winning creative team to leading names in the West End. However, it sadly feels like it should have been left to bake a little longer before serving.
The show follows our heroine, Jenna played by Katharine McPhee and her struggles of keeping up a waitress job whilst living with an abusive husband, before falling pregnant. The show holds some emotional moments and really has a way of displaying the truth behind those expecting parents who don’t feel happy about it – highlighting the struggles of a single mum. McPhee holds the stage well with her song “She Used To Be Mine”, to a dead silent audience.
The show’s opening number immediately picks you up and makes you forget about the day you’ve had. Jenna’s best friends, and fellow waitresses, accompany Jenna and the rest of the cast on stage. Marisha Wallace (recently in Dreamgirls) plays Becky and the loveable Laura Baldwin (recently Eugenius) plays Dawn. Wallace and Baldwin are absolutely sensational, with close harmonies, and technical set and slick choreography. In fact the choreography was flawless throughout. Choreographer Lorin Lattaro, makes the movement feel very natural, very DV8. Walace and Baldwin made the show for me, personally, and I feel huge praise should go to Baldwin for taking to the stage with two very established female leading ladies and holding her own like she’s done it for years – one to watch for sure.
David Hunter plays our love interest who falls for Jenna, whilst being married himself. Perhaps this is the moment to point out that this show, although very moving, does seem to allow affairs to be acceptable, and you find yourself urging the characters to leave their other halves to come together – whether they do or not, i’ll leave for you to find out, but their song ‘Bad Idea’ is once you’ll be singing all the way home.
The show runs at two and a half hours, which felt a little too long. Jenna’s husband; Earl, played by Peter Hannah seems a bit of a nothing part. That’s not against Hannah’s performance, his characterisation of Earl is perfect however I just don’t feel the role adds anything to the other all production – his scenes don’t tell us anymore about him that we can already gather. Some of the other relationships that blossom in the show didn’t feel relatable, and took away from the fragile realistic nature of Jenna’s situation. Jack McBrayer who plays Ogie is a comedic genius, giving light relief to a previously heavy scene, however his singing isn’t the same standard as his fellow cast members, and sadly this distracted from what would, I’m sure, have been a very funny song.
Overall, Waitress was enjoyable and I would recommend it. The audience also were very vocal at how much they were enjoying it though-out. It comes to the West End with a huge hype, and the crowds at the red carpet show how much the buzz has followed from Broadway. I hope it survives a long run, but just incase, don’t leave it too long to purchase your tickets.
Reviewed by Benjamin Martin
Photo: Johan Persson
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