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Review: Waitress, at the Adelphi Theatre

A deliciously sharp, warm and witty hit from Broadway, with quality music as the cherry on the top

15 March, 2019 — By Catherine Usher

Katharine McPhee as Jenna in Waitress. Photo: Johan Persson

THE hit Broadway musical has arrived in the West End, bringing its star Katharine McPhee with it – and right from the start it’s clear that Waitress is doing things differently.

Unexpectedly sharp, warm and witty, the lyrics to the songs are full of biting humour, while the customers and colleagues at Joe’s Diner are far from the usual clear-cut goodies and baddies who populate most musicals.

There’s a rather blasé approach to extramarital affairs throughout the whole story, creating some shocking and highly amusing scenes.

McPhee plays waitress Jenna, who has quite a challenging existence, working in a low-paying job and trying to rub along with her aggressive, dead-beat husband. She finds solace hanging out with her two waitress friends Dawn and Becky at work and baking delicious, crowd-pleasing pies.

Dr Pomatter (David Hunter) brings out Jenna’s wild side and Hunter delivers a well-rounded, comedy-filled performance as her nervous, infatuated doctor. The audience warms to him, despite what he’s up to, and the scenes in which he interacts with Jenna are entertainingly unpredictable.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall actor Jack McBrayer also provides plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as Dawn’s persistent wannabe boyfriend Ogie, who charms the audience even more convincingly than he wins over reluctant Dawn (Laura Baldwin).

But the cherry on top of this appetising dish is the quality of the music, which is enhanced by American Idol star McPhee’s impressive vocals. Her multilayered, genuine performance is greeted with deservedly thunderous applause.

Ultimately Waitress is a simple story, but this production is anything but plain. It has all the quality ingredients required to serve up a delicious, perfectly baked show, sprinkled with wholesome life lessons and a dash of unexpected spice.

Until October 19, 2019
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