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Review: ‘Waitress’ an enjoyable musical but not kid friendly

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The musical “Waitress” at the Brook Atkinson Theatre is about a waitress named Jenna Hunterson who works at Joe’s Diner off the highway with fellow waitresses Becky and Dawn. Jenna has a passion for baking pies, and all her friends and family love them. She learns of a pie baking contest through a customer and wants to join, hoping she’ll win and be able to leave her abusive husband, Earl. Instead, she becomes unexpectedly pregnant and continues to work at the diner.

The show’s opening night was April 24, 2016 and previews began March 25.

The one flaw in “Waitress” is that it isn’t kid-friendly. That doesn’t make it a bad musical, but it does limit the audience compared with other big musicals on Broadway. Characters swear, one even messing up the name of a pie with a curse word. The plot also features affairs. “Waitress” is aimed at adults, as there are adult jokes all through the musical.

When you enter the theater, it smells like delicious pies. The walls are decorated with restaurant guest receipts and fake chalkboards. Before the show starts, the stage has pie-decorated wallpaper. The set looks just like a diner, filled with stools and booths, and shades of neon blue and pink everywhere, as if thrown by the sign at the front of the theater. The waitresses wear dresses colored baby blue with a white apron.

Some songs in the musical include “I Didn’t Plan It,” “Bad Idea,” “What’s Inside,” “When He Sees Me,” and “She Used to be Mine. All of the songs and lyrics were written by Sara Bareilles. Stephanie Torns plays Jenna, with Natasha Yvette Williams as Becky and Caitlin Houlahan as Dawn. Jenna’s doctor, Dr. Pomatter, is played by Erich Bergen and Ben Thompson takes the role of Earl.

In 2016, the musical was nominated for many awards. Some of them were:

  • Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album
  • Drama Desk Award for Best Musical
  • Tony Award for Best Musical
  • Drama League Awards for Best Musical

Time Magazine said, “The woman of ‘Waitress’ are changing Broadway.” New York Magazine called it, “Sassy, sweet, passionate and delightful.” Time Out New York rated it four stars. Marie Claire called the musical “a monumental contribution to Broadway.”

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Review: ‘Waitress’ an enjoyable musical but not kid friendly