Ready for a date night, girls’ (or boys’) night or just love everything about musicals? Then find an evening sometime between now and January 21 to go see Broadway in Cincinnati’s “Waitress” at the Aronoff Center. It brings to life an all too familiar story, but does so with effortless charm, fast-paced wit and outlandish (and dare I say…bawdy) humor that makes for a highly entertaining show. With music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles and an outstanding cast, “Waitress” delivers sugar, spice and everything nice, and is just a little bit naughty in the best possible way!
My friends and I delighted in not knowing exactly what was going to happen in the story, so I’m not going to ruin it for you by providing a play by play (pun intended!). That said, even when you think you know where the story is going to land, it manages to take you along for the ride with some delightful twists along the way. The show delivers a full cast of characters that all bring their own special ingredient to the mix. As you traverse the highs and lows of their personal journeys, they remind you of the importance of hope and everyone’s right to the “pursuit of happiness.”
Again, without sharing too much, I must give some fantastic shout-outs to a few cast members who certainly took home the “blue ribbon” for their performances. Dawn (Lenne Klingemann) and Becky (Charity Angela Dawson) absolutely nailed the role of our heroines’ co-workers and best friends. Jenna, our heroine who is played with utter perfection by Desi Oakley (what a voice!), delivers the perfect blend of sugar and spice. The three of them will have you laughing so hard you’ll cry, and then Desi will make you cry for real with her heart-wrenching rendition of “She Used to Be Mine.” While Bryan Fenkart delivers an outstanding performance as Dr. Pomatter, and Maeisha McQueen as Nurse Norma will make your cheeks hurt, the show-stealers are Joe (Larry Marshall) and Ogie (Jeremy Morse). Joe has some one-liners that invoke delightful audience participation via a collective “Oh my!” and will make you nostalgic with his beautifully sung “Take It From an Old Man”. However, there are literally no words to describe the unique recipe that is Ogie; he is one of my favorite musical characters ever…take my word for it, you do not want to miss Jeremy Morse’s performance.
And in case you still need to be convinced to take a bite out of this delicious musical, the set itself is wonderful in its detailed yet charming and simplistic design. With incredibly effective lighting, they leverage the same beautifully painted backdrop for every scene in a way that effortlessly moves you from day to night, inside to outside, work to home, all while evoking the emotions portrayed in each and every scene. Did I forget to mention that there is a live band on stage for the entire production? It is really quite extraordinary; they are so effectively integrated into the set and scenes that you only notice them because the music is so good.
With the recurrent murmur of “Sugar, Butter…Flour” to bring you into each scene and set the stage, you’ll find yourself reciting it in your head and creating your very own pie names to capture your emotions and daily adventures. And while we may all empathize with the “White Knuckle” pie, we all absolutely deserve the “Pursuit of Happiness” pie. Do not wait another moment to find your own happiness as you indulge both your good and your bad angel with the hilarious, charming and surprisingly moving “Waitress.”
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: This show is definitely targeted at high school age or older…huge thanks to the Aronoff box office for ensuring ticket purchasers are aware. It is also quite a long show at almost three hours including intermission, so make sure you grab a delicious dinner ahead of time at one of the excellent nearby restaurants.
Christi Geary is the proud mom of two girls 10 and under, best friend and wife of her husband Brian, and an Associate Director at the Procter & Gamble Company focused on innovation insights and analytics. She enjoys and participates in art of all kinds, feeds an insatiable curiosity for learning, pursues different forms of exercise when she can find the time to balance out her foodie predilection, and delights in spending time with family and friends.