Oh gosh, where to start?
I’ve posted about Waitress and how much I absolutely adore it on this blog numerous times (here, here, and here). From the Sara Bareilles score to the storyline to just about every single little thing about it. It’s just magical, and it has kept me going back for more and more and more. There’s just something about it that speaks to me on so many different levels, and every time I left the theater, I just wanted to be back there seeing the show again.
When I heard over the summer that it would be closing up shop on January 5th, I used my mother’s upcoming birthday as an excuse to buy us second row orchestra seats to the final performance. I had never been to a closing night show before, and felt like I had to say goodbye to this show that had such an impact on me.
I loved every single minute of it. I can’t say that is was the best performance that I have ever seen of the show, but it was certainly one of the most entertaining! The cast really leaned into it being their last show, ad-libbing some new stuff in, prolonging some of the audience’s favorite moments and putting their mark on this final performance.
There were also some unexpected moments. For example, at one point during “What Baking Can Do,” Catherine McPhee accidentally threw a piece of pie dough onto the floor, and when she first meets Dr. Pomatter, she flubs one of her lines but seamlessly goes right back into it. My favorite unexpected moment came about mid-way through the first act. After singing “When He Sees Me” for the final time, Caitlin Houlahan (my favorite Dawn) started to tear up and had to compose herself, and the audience gave her a standing ovation mid-show (and I cried too, thinking this would happen throughout the rest of the show but I was pretty composed and just got teary at various moments). To see and feel the emotions of the actors onstage as they completed their final run with this beloved show is what live theater is all about.
This first ovation set the precedent for many more, completely well-deserved, standing ovations throughout the rest of the show: Christopher Fitzgerald, after his always brilliant and completely crazy “Never Ever Getting Rid of Me,” Natasha Yvette Williams after the powerful” I Didn’t Plan It,” Catherine McPhee after the iconic “She Used to Be Mine” and finally, and for Stephanie Torns who has been with the musical since it started and was the understudy for Jenna throughout the run.
At the end, the show’s creative team came out to make their speeches, ending with Sara Bareilles. She led the cast and crew and the audience in one final chorus of “Everything Changes,” after which the cast and crew gathered for a group hug on stage. It was a perfect ending.
(I have some videos of the creative team talking, but I don’t have the capability to post videos here on the blog. I will be posting some in my Instagram Stories on the day this post goes live, so follow @sewfancybrooklyn if you want to see them. I will also make a highlight in case you’re seeing this post later than Tuesday.)
Everything about it was just so wonderful, I could probably keep gushing about nothing in particular, so I’ll leave with this image of the cast and crew’s group hug. This is not MY theater family, but I totally feel the love in this picture. If you work in theater in any capacity, you know that it bonds you and creates a family. And there is no love like your theater family love.
Happy trails, Waitress. I will miss you.