The Grand Theatre and Opera House, Leeds – until Saturday 18 September 2021.
Reviewed by Aimee Liddington.
Sugar, butter and flour. Those are the key ingredients for a good pie pastry, but what are the key ingredients for life? Sara Bareilles’ bittersweet musical based on the book written by Jessie Nelson and the motion picture written by Adrienne Shelly make us question just that. Jenna, played by Lucie Jones, is a kind hearted young woman trapped in a violent and abusive relationship. With a little help from her friends and her passion for making pies she dreams and eventually manages to conjure up a better life for herself.
The American diner is iconic for anyone who has grown up watching American movies and TV shows and Scott Pask (set designer), Suttirat Anne Larlarb (costume designer) and Richard Mawbey (wig and make up designer) deliver exactly what we expect. The big neon sign and the endless waitresses in their pinafores and aprons shift us to a world that is hundreds of miles away but yet seems so familiar. The staging and costumes are intricate and detailed but not cluttered and provide the perfect backdrop for the talented performers.
The first voice we hear is that of Lucie Jones who plays the character of Jenna. Jones has the perfect voice for this role as she cleverly portrays the kindness of the character through the softness of her voice whilst also being able to pack a punch in her solo songs. Most notable was her performance of the song ‘She Used to Be Mine’ – Jones’ stunning voice coupled with her ability to convey emotion is breathtaking. The music written by Sara Bareilles is the ultimate combination of cheesy musical and love song ballad and Jones seems to be able to deliver both genres with ease.
The actors all did a fantastic job with their characterisation but special mention should go to Tamlyn Henderson who does such a great job of portraying Earl (the low life, abusive husband) that even with a mere mention of his character’s name you can hear a collective sigh and eyeroll from the audience. A personal favourite character of mine is Ogie who is played by George Crawford. Crawford conveys the loveable and enthusiastic character with such gumption and his chemistry with Evelyn Hoskins and her character, Dawn, is a sight to behold.
Waitress is a production which will take you from laughter to tears in a matter of minutes. It’s a real emotional roller coaster and you can’t help but become invested in the characters’ fate. Sugar, butter and flour are the key ingredients for a good pie pastry and this ensemble certainly have the key ingredients for a remarkable performance.