REVIEW: ‘Waitress’ mixes sugar, butter, flour and (some) talent

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Courtesy of Jeremy Daniel

Lead Bailey McCall as Jenna, and Company in the National Tour of “Waitress”.

Underbaked and confused, “Waitress: The Musical” gets lost in a mix of sex and social issues. Adapted from Adrienne Shelly’s cult 2007 indie flick of the same name, the musical features a kooky waitress and a morally compromised cast. The show has no heroes — just a hodgepodge of regular people making terrible choices. 

Not unlike the pies featured throughout the performance — made of the most random ingredients that don’t seem to work together — the show is a somewhat odd mix. ‘Waitress’ dares to dip its toes into issues like adultery and domestic violence, but never really adds anything to the conversation.

Just as the focus of the musical seems to be lost, the comedy is on a whole other planet. The self-deprecating comedy falls flat a few times, but the real outlier is the out-of-place juvenile sex jokes. Not only is the mix of content confusing, but the musical repeats similar scenes over and over, building very little character development in the first act. 

The score is fantastic, with upbeat modern music and lots of energy. The supporting cast is, for lack of a better word, very talented. Kennedy Salters’s incredible voice brings light to the stage. Her singing performance as Becky was a delight to watch. Her sassy attitude and delivery of quick jokes had me laughing with the audience. 

The duo performance of Gabriella Marzetta as Dawn and Brian Lundy as Ogie was definitely the most entertaining part of the show. No romance has been written that rivals the connection of the waitress history buff and the accountant/amatuer magician. 

The biggest issue is with the lead. Bailey McCall, who played Jenna, never resonates with you. Her story leads you to root for her, but none of her musical performances stack up to carry the weight of the subject matter — her dull ballads lose the focus of the musical. This show thrives on slapstick dark comedy and upbeat melodies, and her deep emotions felt completely out of place.

Although the show is imperfect, the cast and music will bring a smile to any audience member’s face who can overlook the details. Wichita is lucky to get a chance to stop into Jenna’s pie shop. Go get your slice and enjoy.