The Clipper review: ‘Waitress’ serves a tasty performance at Eccles Theater
By Tom Haraldsen
One of Broadways’ most enduring musicals plays through Sunday at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City, and it’s a performance you shouldn’t miss.
‘Waitress’ is part of the Broadway Across America Mountain series. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. for Sept. 26-27, 8 p.m. for Sept. 28, 2 and 8 p.m. on Sept. 29, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 30.
This production features original music and lyrics by 6-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam), choreography by Lorin Latarro (Les Dangereuse Liasons, Waiting For Godot) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin, Finding Neverland).
Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, “Waitress” tells the story of Jenna – a waitress and expert pie maker, Jenna dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.
In Tuesday night’s performance, Jenna was brought to life by Desi Oakley, a talented performer whose singing and acting perfectly depicts the conflict within her character. Oakley’s powerful voice illuminates the stage with Bareilles’ music. Her waitress counterparts—Charity Angel Dawson as Becky and Lenne Klingaman as Dawn—are wonderful in their own rights, skillfully adding their singing and acting talents to the mix. Add in great performances by Bryan Fenkart as Dr. Pomatter, Jeremy Morse at Ogie, Ryan Dunkin as Cal and Nick Bailey as Earl, and this cast of “Waitress” cooks up an appetizing and entertaining production. The entire supporting cast and on-stage musicians are the cherries on top of this wonderful musical pie. (And you’ll be longing for a piece of pie by time the show ends—they’re everywhere on stage!)
“Waitress” is also timely. It’s message of the value of self-worth and particularly the need for female empowerment has never been more important than now. When the late actress and screenwriter Shelly first penned the story for the 2007 film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, she may have had no idea who relevant the story would continue to be years later. That message is, and it resonates perfectly in “Waitress.”
The show ends Sunday, so don’t skip dessert. Ticket information is available at ArtTix.org or by phone at 801-355-ARTS (2787). For tour information, visit http://waitressthemusical.com.
CAPTION: Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman star in the National tour of “Waitress,” playing at Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City through Sept. 30. Photo courtesy of Matthew Murphy