Waitress tells the charming, funny, sweet, and sad story of waitress and pie-maker Jenna. She's trapped in her life - by poverty, a controlling and abusive husband, and no options. Her solace is baking pies at Joe's Pie Diner with friends Dawn and Becky (as much as anything else, this is a story of female friendship). When she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, Jenna doesn't have much hope for her future or her child. She hides money around the house, and dreams of entering a pie contest, hoping to be able to leave Earl someday (is it a coincidence that Jenna's abusive husband shares the same name as the abusive husband in the Dixie Chicks' empowerment anthem "Goodbye Earl?"). But Earl finds out, and won't let her leave (the musical cleverly turns what could be a romantic song, "Til the sun don't shine, you will still be mine," into a threat, a cage, a trap). Jenna also begins to find solace in her relationship with her doctor as they begin a secret affair. Eventually Jenna gains the courage to start her life anew, thanks to her friends, an affair with this man who is kind to her, and her new baby Lulu.*
|Kennedy Salters, Jisel Soleil Ayon, and Gabriella Marzetta|
|David Socolor and Jisel Soleil Ayon|
The scenic design is also lovely and beautifully represents the small town Americana feel, with a backdrop of open skies and cute and kitschy set pieces that roll in and out for the diner, clinic, and home scenes (scenic design by Scott Pask). They also have real baking ingredients on stage, or what looks real from the mezzanine. Sugar, butter, and flour flow freely and are part of the choreography.* With all of Jenna's creative and delicious pie flavors, this show will leave you craving pie, and the Ordway missed out by not selling pie at concessions (although they do have some fun themed drinks).
Waitress is not your typical Broadway musical, which is always a good thing in my book. The stripped down sound, the atypical love story that doesn't end in "happily ever after," the focus on female friendship (not to mention an almost entirely female creative team), and the beautiful ordinariness of the story. This large theater staging is very successful, and I also look forward to when Waitress is available for regional production, and we can see one of our local companies make the story even more intimate and real.
While the weather is still cold and dark and Minnesota, head to the Ordway for the warmth of this story, and then have some pie (a wonderful way to celebrate the upcoming pi day!).