Broadway Musical “Waitress” Is As Sweet As Pie

Sara Bareilles’ award-winning musical is full of sugar, butter, flour, and a whole lot of heart


Photo by Waitress Musical

Waitress poster advertising the musical.

Natalie Pearson, Staff Reporter

It only took a taste of the movie-musical “Waitress” for me to fall in love with it. Based on the 2007 indie film of the same name, “Waitress” focuses on Jenna (Desi Oakley), a waitress and expert pie baker at Joe’s Diner in the American South. Seemingly stuck in an unhappy relationship with her selfish husband Earl (Nick Bailey), Jenna finds solace in baking and rationalizes tough situations by inventing new and somewhat eccentric pies.

As the story unfolds, Jenna is dismayed to discover she’s pregnant, now feeling more trapped and hopeless than ever. It seems her only way out is to win the state pie contest, earning enough money for her and her baby to escape to a new life. In the midst of all this tragedy, Jenna begins an illicit affair with her gynecologist, Dr. Pomatter (Bryan Fenkart).

The story is sweet enough, with a small yet endearing cast of characters who truly feel like real people. Dawn (Lenne Klingaman), a quirky friend and fellow waitress of Jenna’s, was adorable. Her shy demeanor and OCD tendencies added a certain kind of innocence to the whole production.

Becky, another waitress at Joe’s Diner, was easily one of my favorites, played by Charity Angél Dawson. Her sassy attitude and hilarious one-liners interject a bit of comedy into an otherwise emotional and gripping tale of self-discovery.

Then again, the same can be said for any of the side characters, who are mostly meant for comic relief but simultaneously develop and create stories of their own. This musical crafts multiple stories into one beautiful tale of love, loss, and self-acceptance.

Granted, even though there is a bit of comedy in the musical, and it does seem lighthearted, comedy isn’t the whole point of “Waitress.” It just balances it out, so to speak. It brings to light these struggling and healthy relationships alike to show a story that really does tug at the heartstrings.

We can all relate to something in “Waitress,” whether it is finding love or making a new life for yourself; either way, it’s a tragic story, and that’s what the comedy is for. It’s there to break up the sad parts and remind the audience that this musical isn’t all pain and suffering. Without it, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much as I did.

To put it simply: if I were to describe “Waitress” in one word, it would be human.

The exceptional sets and excellent performances also tie this confection together, accompanied by wonderful music from pop singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles. The songs are seamlessly weaved into the story, from the poppy attitude of Becky’s “I Didn’t Plan It” to Dawn’s hilarious and fun solo, “When He Sees Me.”

The actors were also top-notch, as well. Desi Oakley especially plays the part of Jenna extremely well, and I was once again reminded of what a natural she was during Jenna’s show-stopping ballad, “She Used To Be Mine.” Her powerful voice showcased how much emotion she poured into her role, capturing Jenna’s feelings of mournful nostalgia perfectly. As Jenna cried, I shed a few tears of my own right along with her.

In short, “Waitress” is a perfect example of storytelling done right. It was poignant and relatable. Most of all, though, it was authentic. It felt real, and that is precisely what made this musical so great.

Natalie Pearson

Natalie became a member of the Flightline in August of 2017. She is a junior this year, involved in band. Outside of school, she enjoys watching movies and playing video games. You can email her at [email protected]