Waitress at The Churchill Theatre
Waitress is one of the big hitters currently on the tour circuit so I was delighted to go along to the Churchill to see how the tour was fairing up after previous visits to the show both on the West End and the early tour dates.
Waitress follows Jenna, a pie maker in an abusive relationship who is pregnant. When she meets her new Doctor the relationship develops into something more than just Doctor/Patient and the audience watch this grow along with her desire to find a better life for her baby using baking as her way out.
Waitress’ success (or failure) is heavily rooted in the casting of their Jenna and I saw understudy Aimee Fisher play the role. I am always fascinated by the different character traits the various actresses playing this role can bring out and Fisher was a completely different Jenna to Katherine McPhee and Lucie Jones, the 2 previous Jenna’s I have seen. Fisher played Jenna a lot sweeter and more ‘girl next door’ than any other interpretation I have seen. Her vocals during ‘She Used To Be Mine’ really showed the audience why this is the big number from the show.
This is a show written by women and you can tell this as the supporting 2 female characters are beautifully written. Dawn, played by Evelyn Hoskins and Becky played by Sandra Marvin are Jenna’s 2 colleagues and confidants. They inject some much needed humour into what would otherwise be a show full of heavy themes. Ogie, Dawn’s love interest is played by George Crawford and the two of them together have brilliant comedy timing and ‘Never Ever Getting Rid of Me,’ was a highlight of the show.
Whilst the show focuses on these leading ladies I would be remiss not to mention Doctor Pomatter, played by Nathanael Landskroner, another understudy. At times he seemed a little shaky with some of the intricacies of the scene but luckily the character themselves is a jittery character so he got away with it. Whilst he got across the comedy side of Dr Pomatter really well I would also have liked there to be a bit more explosive chemistry between him and Fisher.
As this was the third time I have seen the show this enabled me to sit back and watch some of the background action and it was at these points that I found myself drawn to Cal, played by Christopher D. Hunt. Often during musical numbers it was a joy to look into the on stage kitchen and see Hunt dancing or echoing the action on stage. The same sentiment can be echoed for the rest of the ensemble. At first glance this wouldn’t appear to be a show where the ensemble do a huge amount but they are woven seamlessly into each scene, from passing Jenna various baking ingredients throughout to customers in the diner.
The music by Sara Bareilles is one of the huge selling points of Waitress, the music has you laughing and crying in a matter of moments. There are reoccurring motifs used throughout the show that are used efficiently and wonderfully all of the music really develops the characters we see on stage in front of us. My only gripe was that, unusually, the balance between the onstage band and the vocals were off and I struggled to hear the vocals at times.
Waitress is a touching musical, full of comedy and heart and with the top quality songs from the show it really would be a ‘Bad Idea’ if you don’t check out this tour.
Waitress is on at the Churchill Theatre until 26th February. You can find out more about the Waitress tour on their website.