The Waitress

We saw The Waitress at the Adelphi Theatre and it was great. I heard good things before, no specifics really, and only really heard of one song – but that didn’t matter one bit. I also knew that it is about, unsurprisingly, a waitress working in a diner who bakes pies. She is in an abusive relationship and gets pregnant and starts an affair with her doctor. And that’s pretty much all I knew before going in.

Staging

The Adelphi Theatre is kind of small, and like most London theatres, quite outdated and lacking drink holders and leg room. But as soon as you walk in you see the pie screen with pie displays either end of the stage, trying to transport you to small town America.

I was fascinated by the stage props throughout: the main waitress Jenna actually cracks eggs into colourful bowls to make the pies on stage, the other waitresses actually pour coffee into mugs for the diner customers, and the diner customers actually eat the pies on their tables. Either that or it’s fake eggs, coca cola disguised as coffee, and just whipped cream on a plate; either way it was a very interesting set design and really creative encompassing it on stage.

Transitions between diner to doctor’s office to Jenna’s home are seamless. What was brilliant was little moments of Jenna day dreaming and conjuring up new pies in her head – it was all done so well. The songs push the story along really well and I feel every song is needed and there was no fluff. And it was interesting to see the band perform live on stage too.

Audience reaction

There was plenty of laughter from the audience, nothing fell flat, and there were a couple of really funny characters that I absolutely adored.

There were even a couple of gasps, for example immediately after the first kiss I heard someone exclaim “Jesus”, which made me chuckle; clearly I knew more about the premise of the musical than this person. There was a more audible gasp at the end, even from me, but I won’t spoil anything here.

There was also a mini standing ovation after the big song, the only one I knew of beforehand, which I thought was odd as I thought the standing ovation only happened at the end of musicals. There was clapping after most songs, but the pause after the song allowed for this before the next dialogue set in.

A wonderful musical, with so much emotion. The main protagonist being in an abusive relationship and unable to break free, but can only do so after the birth of her child – just wow. It was empowering to watch that switch flick. This reminded me of stories of people not defending themselves but when their abusers start to target their animals or their children only then can they take a stand and break the cycle and break free. That you can put up with so much yourself, so much pain, so much suffering, but cannot stand to see another go through that. Empathy can be so powerful.

It was raw, sometimes; yet at other points it was hilarious. There was hope at the end. And the songs reflect that so well. Sara Bareilles wrote the music and the lyrics – what a talented woman. I have been listening to the soundtrack almost every day now. I love it, and it may be one of the best musicals I’ve seen or heard so far. I haven’t seen the Adrienne Shelley film that this musical is based on, which has the same name, but I will be checking it out soon. If you can grab tickets to the musical, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

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