This isn’t a sponsored post.
BrumHour saw Waitress at the invitation of Wolverhampton Grand.
By Suzie Speaks twitter.com/suzie81blog
Review: Waitress at Wolverhampton Grand
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”The perfect balance of drama and comedy”
Directed by Diane Paulus, Book by Jessie Nelson with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles
Based on the 2007 movie by the late Adrienne Shelly, Waitress tells the story of Jenna (Chelsea Halfpenny), a waitress and baker of incredible pies at an American pie diner who finds out she is pregnant with her abusive husband. With her colleagues/best friends Dawn (Evelyn Hoskins) and Becky (Wendy Mae Brown) and her pies as her only source of enjoyment, she meets the handsome new gynaecologist Dr Pomatter in town (David Hunter) and her life is turned upside down…
I adored Chelsea Halfpenny’s portrayal of Jenna. Sweet, vulnerable, with an underlying edge of ambition, she navigates the role perfectly as she moves from resignation and longing to strength and resilience, with the ability to both hold the audience in complete silence and make them laugh out loud. Her voice is sensational – She Used to Be Mine (one of my favourites) was so emotional that it brought me to tears. Her interactions with her husband Earl (Tamlyn Henderson) made for uncomfortable viewing, and this is testament to Henderson’s superb performance of a truly loathsome character.
In direct contrast, Dr Pomatter (David Hunter) is awkward, funny, and despite the fact that he’s a married man who is cheating on his spouse, instantly likeable. There’s an air of Nathan Fillion (who plays the role in the film) in his delivery, but with a surprising amount of physical comedy which he made look effortless. The chemistry between him and Halfpenny was entirely believable, with genuine smiles and a chemistry that leaves you rooting for them.
The relationship between Jenna, Dawn and Becky was a joy to watch, with their chemistry, continuous support and sisterhood prompting multiple “awww” moments from the audience. They are all expert vocalists in their own right, with on-point delivery of both solo and ensemble numbers.
To perfectly counteract the tension in the more serious scenes was an almost endless stream of brilliantly-timed comedic moments within the sub-plots that develop throughout. The relationships between sassy Becky and diner owner Cal (Christopher D. Hunt), and quirky Dawn and Ogie (George Crawford) are a joy to watch, bringing down the house on multiple occasions with perfectly delivered moments of hilarity. And isn’t just the main cast that provided big laughs – Scarlet Gabriel’s Nurse Norma’s one-liners were perfectly timed, as were Michael Starke’s in the role of rather cantankerous diner owner and regular customer Joe.
The set was cleverly used, with the stage transformed between a diner, Jenna and Earl’s home, a kitchen and a doctor’s office with seeming ease. The choreography was fun and creative (at one point incorporating pies and spoons) and I liked the fact that the band can be seen on stage throughout.
With difficult themes including domestic violence, emotional abuse and unwanted pregnancy, it has the potential to be quite a dark show. However, it is sensitively balanced by the many comedic moments, great performances and, of course, the songs.
Beautifully done from start to finish. Waitress is slick, with the perfect balance of drama and comedy and a soundtrack that will give you all the feels. Well worth a watch.
Waitress is at Wolverhampton Grand until Saturday 2nd July 2022. Limited tickets are available to book here: grandtheatre.co.uk/whats-on/waitress.