Waitress was one of the shows which had its West End run cut short by Covid so I was delighted to hear that it was going out on tour with some of the cast from the West End. I was even more delighted when I was asked to attend press night at New Wimbledon Theatre.
For those unfamiliar with the show it tells of Jenna, a Waitress who uses baking as a way of escaping reality. She finds herself pregnant from her abusive husband Earl and when she is told about a pie baking competition she is determined to enter and use the prize money to start afresh.
The thing that strikes me most about Waitress as a show is the music. The music and lyrics for Waitress are by Sara Bareilles. The music is brilliant at telling Jenna’s story through song, with beautiful reoccurring motifs, fun songs such as ‘Bad Idea’ and of course emotional powerhouse numbers such as ‘She Used To Be Mine.’ The music is also brilliant at developing character and in particular Jenna, Dawn and Becky who are all friends and colleagues.
Playing Jenna was Lucie Jones and her performance made me feel everything from joy to ugly crying. You immediately warm to her as Jenna and her vocals alone gave me goosebumps. It is rare that you get a mid show standing ovation but Lucie Jones caused a spontaneous one following ‘She Used To Be Mine.’
Joining Lucie in the diner was Evie Hoskins as Dawn and Sandra Marvin as Becky. Hoskins is wonderfully kooky as Dawn and Marvin is a fun straight talking Becky. One of the most heartwarming things about Waitress is their friendship and it was wonderful see such a strong female friendship portrayed on stage. Whilst they are all great individually, between them their friendship really shines.
Whilst the female friendships in Waitress is joyous, most of the romantic ones problematic, an abusive marriage, an affair with a married Doctor and a man who stalks you in order to woo you. I actually found myself much more invested in the friendship as a result. This is however nothing against the Matt Willis who plays Dr Pomatter and George Crawford who plays Dawn’s love interest, Ogie. Willis is awkward yet charming and Crawford had the audience in stitches during ‘Never Ever Getting Rid of Me.’
The set by Scott Pask is every bit as impressive as the West End production however what was even more impressive was how each transition was choreographed with the cast using diner trollies stacked high with pies to help ensure that the scenes flow seamlessly from one to the next.
Lucie Jones in the role of Jenna and to hear her sing ‘She Used To Me Mine’ is worth the recommendation for Waitress alone however when you layer Lucie’s star turn with heartwarming music and tale of female friendship it is a show not to be missed.
Waitress is on at New Wimbledon Theatre until 11th September. You can find out more about the Waitress Tour, including where else in the country it is going to on their website.