{Out and About: Waitress, Take Four}

My current favorite Broadway obsession is Waitress, and it has been for quite some time. Long time blog readers may remember my posts about seeing it three other times. I first saw it about two years ago, when Jessie Mueller was starring in the lead role of Jenna Hunterson. She was brilliant, as was the whole rest of the cast. I was immediately hooked. The second time I saw it because Sara Bareilles, who wrote the music and lyrics, was taking over as Jenna. The third time I saw it, Sara Bareilles was in it again, this time joined by Jason Mraz as Dr. Pomatter (and also my mom missed out on seeing Sara Bareilles the first time I went). I loved it more and more every time.

The combination of storyline and songs written and composed by Sara Bareilles, is a dream come true for me. It gets even better when Sara Bareilles herself is starring in the lead role as Jenna. It gets triply better when your mom has a friend in the ensemble and you get the opportunity to go backstage! All of these factors merged together last Friday night for my fourth Waitress experience.

As this was my fourth time seeing Waitress, this isn’t going to be so much a review of the show but more a recap of the evening with a few thoughts about the show.

Dinner for this evening was at Bsquared, a small restaurant on 9th avenue serving pizza, pasta and cocktails. The food and drinks were good, but the atmosphere was a bit claustrophobic. There were three of us at a table that really should have been only for two. I don’t think this one will become one of my theater regulars, but it was good for the evening.

At the theater, we lucked out when the two seats in front of us were empty. Our seats were in row H on the left side of the orchestra, but at the Brooks Atkinson theater, there are really no bad seats. Though my third row center seats (for Waitress number three) were by far my favorite, every time I’ve seen the show, no matter where I sit, the vantage point is great.

The show was, as usual, AMAZING. There’s just something about it that resonates deeply with me. I can relate to all three of the female leads, more thematically than anything else (none of their life situations really match my own). Whenever I listen to the music in the car, I love singing all their songs (in true Sara Bareilles songwriting fashion, they all sound like she read pages of my journals and turned them into songs!). I also loved seeing the characters change up the songs from their recorded versions to make them their own, or just to add a little something new to the mix.

One of the best things that can ever happen during a Broadway show is technical difficulty. Some people don’t like them, as they paid money to see the show and it can interrupt the “magic,” but since I am a fellow tech, I actually adore it when something goes wrong. During this show, Sara Bareilles’ microphone started emitting feedback and they had to swap it out. In order to do so, the scene they were in had to stop temporarily to allow this to happen. The great thing about seeing things like that is that the actors have to react in the moment and go with the flow.

This actually sort of happened twice, though the other “difficulty” wasn’t really technical. At one point, Gavin Creel, playing (and owning) the part of Dr. Pommater, dropped a piece of paper into the audience by accident and a person in the first row handed it back. He improvised with, “I don’t know who THAT was.”

I’ve seen four different Dr. Pommaters, and Gavin Creel was great! I really had no idea who he was going in but I ended up really liking him and his portrayal of the doctor. He was just goofy enough without being annoying, and his goofiness was charming or annoying. And he and Sara Bareilles had great chemistry as Jenna and Dr. Pommater. It’s a difficult relationship to get right, because you want to the audience to root for the couple despite the fact that they are both cheating on their spouses.

Everyone else was, of course, fantastic as well, and the show goes by so fast when you’re singing all the songs in your head the whole time!

My mom is friends with Tyrone Davis, Jr., who is a member of the ensemble (and who we saw understudy for Ogie the third time around). He was kind enough to have us visit backstage, and so after the show was over, we headed to stage door. Feeling super important as we bypassed all the fans waiting outside, we met Tyrone and he showed us around the sets. We got to see the diner counter, and the doctor’s office, and various props. He even showed us the place inside the “kitchen” where all the cast members who have left the show sign their names.

Also, why is it so damn cool to stand on a Broadway stage?! There’s just something about standing in front of all the empty seats that feels really special.

Unless for some reason it closes very soon, I don’t anticipate this being my last Waitress experience, but it was definitely one of the best ones!

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