Review by Sean Boelman
Waitress: The Musical is a stage recording of the show’s brief 2021 Broadway remount. Gorgeous in its music, storytelling, and performances, this is a show that will take you by surprise — even if its beats are entirely familiar — by how wonderfully heartfelt yet infectiously fun it is.
Based on the 2007 movie of the same name, the musical tells the story of a small-town waitress and baker whose dreams come into question when she faces an unwanted pregnancy with her abusive husband. Why an indie movie from the 2000s was chosen to be adapted into a stageplay is beyond me, but the result is truly fantastic.
For a story that deals with such darkness at times, it’s extraordinary how much hope and humor they are able to find in it. Viewers will be drawn into the compelling story of the protagonist, and even though she makes some decisions that may not be the most “likable,” the show has a keen eye for the humanity of all of the situations.
However, it isn’t just the protagonist who is compelling. The show does a great job of giving us side characters that are just as riveting as the heroine. Although there are a few storylines that feel underdeveloped — particularly that of the protagonist’s love interest, the sexy gynecologist — others, like her coworkers, are honestly brilliant.
Although Sara Bareilles was not the actress to originate this role on Broadway, she did write the songs. As such, she clearly has a connection to the material, and it shines through with her emotionally and vocally powerful rendition of these tunes. Other standouts in the cast include Drama Desk winner Christopher Fitzgerald in a comedic relief role and Dakin Matthews, who steals every one of his very few scenes.
As far as stage recordings go, Waitress: The Musical doesn’t do anything special. It’s very straightforward in how it captures the action happening on stage, but the show itself is so extraordinary that it does all the heavy lifting. And there is enough movement and kineticism in the camera to lend the movie a sense of energy and momentum.
The soundtrack of the show is tremendous, but that should be no surprise considering how many nominations it racked up during its stage run — from the Tonys to the Drama Desks and even a Grammy nod. The songs run the gamut from catchy to emotional, offering anything one could possibly want from a stage musical.
Waitress: The Musical is an absolutely incredible show, and while the stage recording isn’t terribly revolutionary, the show speaks for itself. The ingredients come together perfectly, and the result is absolutely delicious and entirely satisfying.
Waitress: The Musical is in theaters for five nights only beginning December 7.