Waitress, with music and lyrics by Grammy-nominated Sara Bareilles and adapted from a 2007 indie film starring Keri Russell, is a big-hearted musical that perfectly captures the life of a small-town diner waitress with big dreams.
Jenna (Desi Oakley) is trapped in an unhappy marriage with an abusive husband (Nick Bailey) and her only relief is baking her increasingly famous pies at the diner, where she’s surrounded by caring co-workers who help make life more bearable. News of a pie-making competition at a nearby town with a big cash price begin to fuel Jenna’s dreams of leaving her abusive husband and starting life anew with her own pie shop. But a romantic tryst with the new doctor in town (played with sweet clumsiness by Bryan Fenkart) and a pregnancy threaten to waylay her plans.
Bareilles’ evocative songbook moves the narrative along at a captivating pace and is served well by the realistic sets and the on-stage band that blends seamlessly with the setting, even getting in on the action. Desi Oakley, a singer-songwriter herself with an album on iTunes, is a vocal powerhouse, conveying her hopes and heartbreaks with passion. Not to be overshadowed are also sassy, loud-mouth Becky (Charity Angel Dawson), mousy-on-the-outside, feisty-on-the-inside Dawn (Lenne Klingaman) as Jenna’s co-worker waitresses, and charmingly grouchy senior (Larry Marshall) as a father figure. And what can one say about Jeremy Morse’s Ogie (Dawn’s love interest) except that no amount of praise can do him justice? With his amazing brand of agility, comedic timing (reminiscent of a young Leslie Jordan, Will & Grace), and vocal chops, he elicits that coveted thunderous ovation.
Waitress is more comedy than drama, topped with a dollop of resonant music, making it that perfect slice of theatrical pie that you shouldn’t miss!
— Victor Riobo