DramaMusicalReviewSouth West

Waitress – Bristol Hippodrome

Reviewer: Fran Parker

Music and Lyrics: Sara Bareillies

Director: Sky Barnes

Set Design: Scott Pask

Costume: Suttriat Ann Larlarb

This Broadway musical is a treat for the senses. In the same way that a ‘deep-dish blackberry pie’ might initially be sweet but have a slight bitter quality – the simple comparison between life and pie is actually, quite surprisingly, accurate. The going is not always easy and it isn’t easy to make the best of everything, but Waitress is a shining example of how, if we try, we might find ‘A soft place to land’.

Jenna is an unhappily-married baker and waitress at Joe’s Pie Diner; her humble existence and daydreams are the source of inspiration for her baked goods – both delectable and delicious. Her whole life is about to turn upside down. In the same way we have our fingers crossed for the Covid-19 test to show only one line, she desperately hopes that her pregnancy test is equally ‘negative’. Dawn and Beckie face similar challenges; however, by working together as a modern-day, female equivalent of the Three Musketeers, they pull each other through.

Chelsea Halfpenny, who you may know from TV’s Biker Grove, Emmerdale or Casualty, hit all the right notes; her performance was not only convincing, it was captivating. Similarly, George Crawford (Ogie) and Evelyn Hoskins (Dawn) depicted a genuinely awkward, unwaveringly persistent but beautifully authentic relationship that blossoms organically into something wonderful – after all, they’re committed to ‘doing it right’. Headline act, Matt Jay-Willis, played the role of Dr. Pomatter with panache. His chemistry with Halfpenny on stage, in conjunction with his ability to transmission seamlessly between the comedic and poignant moments, made for superb theatre.

To compliment the talent treading the boards, the set, lighting and costumes all play their part in realising a truly immersive experience. It really is a slick production with very few things, bar a few audio teething issues on the night, to criticise. The moral messages interwoven throughout the performance are relatable and, particularly for the older and more experienced members of the audience, prompt reflection.

Ultimately, we should ‘take it from [the] old man’ and accept that sometimes it’s ‘our mistakes that make [us]’; after all, we are all ‘imperfect’. This is a heart-warming production that encourages us to focus on the most important things in life. Sara Bareillies’, Waitress absolutely deserved the standing ovation it received.

Runs until 12 February 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

A beautiful, heartwarming musical

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The Reviews Hub - South West

The Southwest team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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