When I went: 12 February 2019
Location: Adelphi Theatre, London
Performers: Katharine McPhee (Jenna), Marisha Wallace (Becky), Laura Baldwin (Dawn), David Hunter (Dr Pomatter), Peter Hannah (Earl), Shaun Prendergast (Joe), Stephen Leask (Cal), Jack McBrayer (Ogie), Kelly Agbowu (Nurse Norma), Arabella Duffy (Lulu)
Creative team: Jessie Nelson (book), Sara Bareilles (music and lyrics), Diane Paulus (director), Lorin Latarro (choreographer), Scott Pask (set design), Alecia Parker and Peter May (executive producers), Steven Hill (musical director)
Approximate price: £100
Special points: Pie motif throughout plot, charm and heart
Best bit: Bad Idea
If I could change one thing: More substance over sweetness at the start and end
Waitress is a sweet, charming musical where the lead female characters are easy to root for and the songs are easy to hum, if not spectacular for the most part. I thought that the songs in the middle of the show (particularly Never Ever Getting Rid of Me and Bad Idea) were the best and most engaging.
I also liked the more-measured-than-usual take on extra-marital affairs and message to make the most of life, and the smuttier moments that randomly happened in scenes between Jenna and Dr Pomatter, such as the one featuring pineapple upside-down pie.
The Adelphi had a lovely cinnamon smell piped through the theatre when the audience came in, adding to the immersive atmosphere and making it easier to settle into the pie shop / cafe that is at the heart of the story.
The cast didn’t have a weak link, with the luminous Katharine McPhee singing beautifully as ever as Jenna and Jack McBrayer being typically scene-stealing (he is probably best known as Kenneth from 30 Rock and didn’t stray far from this out-there type of character here as Ogie). Kelly Agbowu also made the most of her few funny lines as Nurse Norma.
There was a late start to the performance (a really unwelcome trend in London theatres lately) and a more major technical issue which stopped the performance one scene before the interval, which wasn’t ideal, but Katharine McPhee and David Hunter (as Dr Pomatter) rescued the end of the second half by picking up the performance very smoothly with Bad Idea.