Keala Settle, Jessie Mueller and Kimiko Glenn in Waitress. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
So I arrived in New York on an uneventful flight late on Saturday morning, and two and a half hours later I was sitting down to my first show — the penultimate preview of a new musical, Waitress, based on the 2007 film of the same name that starred Keri Russell as a diner waitress and pie-baking virtuoso, stuck in a loveless, abusive marriage and about to find herself pregnant.
The enjoyable, but often only workmanlike show has a lot of things going for it, including its first-rate cast led by Jessie Mueller (Tony Award winner in 2014 for playing Carole King in Beautiful), Keala Settle and Kimiko Glenn as her order-up sidekicks and especially Christopher Fitzgerald giving a wholly larcenous performance as Glenn’s goofy first-ever boyfriend.
The show also boasts a first-time theater score by pop singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles. If she hasn’t quite mastered the narrative intricacies of a show score, she knows how to pack a lot of emotion into a musical number. Here’s hoping she enjoyed the experience enough to keep writing for the theater.
This is surely the most conventional Broadway show that director Diane Paulus (Pippin, Finding Neverland) has given us, but it looks to be a real crowd-pleaser that is likely to be around for quite a while.
Saturday night I was not in a theater at curtain time, the only time that will happen this week. I opted instead for a Seder dinner at the comfortable, but still smallish apartment of theater historian-author-record producer Ken Bloom, whose talents also include cooking a mean brisket. Among the 20 in attendance were performers Penny Fuller and Larry Pressman, as well as composer-lyricist Barry Kleinbort and other assorted theater types.
Sunday: Eclipsed and American Psycho