It would have been a terrific add-on when “Waitress” opened at the Cadillac Palace Theatre July 3 to have had some of Jenna’s recipes along with the pocket pies now traditionally sold during the shows national tour.
Because when waitress/cum/pie expert Jennna (Desi Oakly) encounters an obstacle or interesting situation she tailors a pie to match with ingredients ranging from luscious dark chocolate and exotic spices to strange vegetables and items likely not found in a grocery store.
At small-town Joe’s Diner where she bakes and waits tables, there are plenty of pie-inspiring people and situations from what to enter in a pie contest and what to make for her ob-gyn appointments with Dr. Pomatter (Bryan Fenkhart) to what will de-stress her when dealing with her abusive husband Earl (Nick Bailey).
The Diner’s trio of waitresses, Jenna, gospel-singer-style Becky (Charity Angél Dawson) and shy, nervous Dawn (Lenne Klingaman) carry the show with their personalities, the unexpected ways they each tie up with a lover and the songs and ways they support each other.
An unexpected highlight of Act I was when Ogie (Jeremy Morse), kind of a weird guy who was Dawn’s five-minute blind date the night before, shows up at the Diner. As he passionately sings and performs some intricate steps to “Never Ever Getting Rid Of Me” Dawn and Ogie find out they have a lot in common.
Needing to be held and admired, Jenna has an affair with Dr. Pomatter. Becky who is attracted to boss Cal’s (Ryan G. Dunkin) size and muscles, gets what she needs back in the kitchen.
The highlight of the show, though, is arguably its most popular song, “She Used To Be Mine” in Act II. Jenna sings about her longing to control her life. Earl has found the tip money she has saved to go to a pie contest. If she could have gone and won, she would have used the award money to leave Earl and start a new life.
But “Waitress” is a happy-ending musical. Also in Act II Jenna dances at Ogie and Dawn’s wedding with Joe (Larry Marshall), the Diner’s aging, ill owner who encourages her with the song, “Take it From an Old Man).
Later when he is in the hospital for an operation the same time Jenna is delivering her baby, he hands her a congratulations card but tells her not to open it yet.
Kudos go to the musicians who accompanied the show. Doing a masterful job in the background on stage were conductor/pianist Nadia Digiallonardo, associate conductor/keyboardist Lilli Wosk, drums Elena Bonomo, bass, Lexi Bondick, Cellist/ guitarist Nick Anton and guitarist Simon Kafka.
Scott Pask’s clever set made for seamless scene changes .
Directed by Diane Paulus with choreography by Lorin Latarro the show is a finely tuned translation by screenwriter Jessie Nelson’s book and multi-Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles’ music and lyrics of Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 film.
DETAILS: Waitress” is at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St. Chicago, through July 22, 2018. Running time: 2 hrs, 30 min, with one intermission. For tickets and other information call (312) 775-2000 or visit Broadway in Chicago.
For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago