Based on the 2007 movie of the same name, Waitress has come to the stage in Austin, and now Houston with stellar performances across the entire cast. With an easily relatable story and heartwarming music along the way, this is easily a must see while the tour is stopping here in Texas.
Waitress is the romantic comedy turned musical that tells the story of a lovably lighthearted waitress with an almost-optimistic outlook named Jenna Hunterson (Chrstine Dwyer). She’s a genius in the kitchen, crafting creative pies at the local diner, but when she finds out that she’s the newest member of “Club Knocked Up” she decides it’s time to get away from her abusive husband Earl (Matt DeAngelis) with the help of her coworkers Dawn (Jessie Shelton) and Becky (Maiesha McQueen). It only takes a taste for things to take an unexpected turn when Jenna becomes enamored with her gynecologist, Dr. Jim Pomatter (Steven Good). She sees her chance to start a new life for herself and her baby in the twenty thousand dollar prize of a pie contest a few towns over. You’ll have to get tickets to find out is she finds a soft place to land on her journey to motherhood, but I can tell you why it’s worth it.
Christine Dwyer does a great job as Jenna, bringing a special energy to the the role, along with a great vocal quality and an infectious smile. Maiesha McQueen and Ryan G. Dunkin both bring a nice spice to the stage, but my personal favorites come from Jessie Shelton and Jeremy Morse playing Dawn and Ogie respectively. The quirkiness and chemistry that these two bring to their roles is practically perfect. Richard Kline does well bringing charm to his role, and thanks to some smart staging, the seated ensemble doubles as patrons of the pie diner throughout the show. I’d be remiss to forget a special congratulations to Austin’s own four-year-old Penelope Hall (Ellie) and five-year-old Zoe Rutherford who were cast to alternate the role of Lulu during the Austin engagement.
Scott Pask’s set design is beautifully crafted, bookended by columns that alternate from industrial metals mimicking the diner’s structure and classic, functional pie display racks and with the addition of Ken Billington’s lighting design, there’s a great range of visual depth and dimension on stage. Top all of that with direction by Tony Award-winner Diane Paulus and Choreography by Lorin Latarro, blend in music and lyrics by 6-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles, and pour over book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson and what’s inside is a recipe for success that showcases just what baking can do.
Waitress is now playing in the Sarofim Hall at The Hobby Center in Houston until February 3, 2019. Tickets start at $35 and are available by phone at (800) 982-2787; online at TheHobbyCenter.org or BroadwayAtTheHobbyCenter.com; the Hobby Center Box Office (800 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002) and all Ticketmaster outlets.
Nick Bailey is a forward thinking journalist with a well-rounded skill set unafraid to take on topics head on. He now resides in Austin, TX and continues to create content on a daily basis.