What can I say about Waitress at the Liverpool Empire last night? If I’m honest I’m still struggling to articulate what I thought about it really, mainly because every other review I’ve read seemed to love it. It’s also had a long and successful time on Broadway since its beginnings in 2016.
WAITRESS tells the story of Jenna, an expert pie maker in a small town, who dreams of a way out of her loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a new life, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes to happiness. But Jenna must find the courage and strength within herself to rebuild her life. Waitress the musical celebrates friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie.
Perhaps my own experience of recent excellent musicals (Hamilton, Six, Les Miserables, Mamma Mia) plays a part in this review, but overall I found the musical a little twee, and without any real excitement.
I loved the clever use of the set, and thought the three piece band was incredible and loved their positioning on stage.
The songs were lovely and certainly sung well by Chelsea Halfpenny, Sandra Marvin, Evelyn Hoskins and Matt Willis but for me they lacked any real excitement or power.
I just didn’t really ‘get’ the characters or the storyline of Waitress the Musical. I could perhaps understand why Jenna stayed with Earl, but failed to understand why she would embark on an affair with her Doctor who was married and who she seemed to not really like.
The Guardian I think summed up for me what I have been struggling to say and why it wasn’t for me:
The sexual politics of the piece can be a little troubling, too. Clearly a story of female empowerment, it offers several excellent roles for women, but is less confident in its handling of men. We know we’re meant to dislike Earl, who discounts Jenna’s feelings and won’t take no for an answer. But we’re meant to embrace Ogie, who turns a deaf ear when Dawn says she doesn’t want to date him, and even Dr Pomatter, who violates his relationship with his vulnerable patient. Is this condoned because this Ogie is unmuscled and Dr Pomatter so lean? The show seems to take the moral stance that men who are too slight or too old to beat women up get a pass, but others are to be treated with skepticism. That’s less than delicious.The Guardian Review of Waitress the Musical
This is however only my view of the show, it certainly didn’t feel like the view of the majority of the audience who laughed (at the right bits) and got on board with the sweet feeling of the show. It wasn’t for me, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be for you.
You can read a more positive review of Waitress at the Liverpool Empire from the Echo
The production is at Liverpool Empire until Saturday May 14, you can get tickets here.
The production continues
9–14 MAY 2022 LIVERPOOL EMPIRE
16–21 MAY 2022 BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME birminghamhippodrome.com
24-28 MAY 2022 THE MAYFLOWER, SOUTHAMPTON mayflower.org.uk
30 MAY–4 JUNE 2022 WALES MILLENNIUM CENTRE, CARDIFF wmc.org.uk
7–18 JUNE 2022BORD GÁIS ENERGY THEATRE DUBLIN bordgaisenergytheatre.ie
20-25 JUNE 2022 TORQUAY PRINCESS THEATRE atgtickets.com
28 JUNE–2 JULY 2022WOLVERHAMPTON GRAND THEATRE grandtheatre.co.uk
4–9 JULY 2022 DARTFORD ORCHARD THEATRE orchardtheatre.co.uk
18–23JULY 2022 NOTTINGHAM ROYAL CONCERT HALL trch.co.uk C
25–30 JULY 2022 BRADFORD ALHAMBRA bradford-theatres.co.uk
1–6 AUGUST 2022 CANTERBURY MARLOWE THEATRE marlowetheatre.com
9–13 AUGUST 2022 SOUTHEND CLIFFS PAVILION southendtheatres.org.uk
15–20 AUGUST 2022 NORWICH THEATRE ROYAL norwichtheatre.org