BY Iride Aparicio

Photos By: Tim Trumble and Joan Marcus

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Inside the newly-renovated SHN GOLDEN GATE THEATRE, behind a golden stage curtain, that imitates the crust of a pie,  WAITRESS the Broadway musical, is about to make its debut  in San Francisco, where the audience filling the theatre waits impatiently for the curtain to raise.

Inspired by writer director ADRIENNE SHELLY’s 2007 sassy comedy about a woman’s choices, motherhood, the power of friendship and dreams about a second chance in life, WAITRESS is the story of  Jenna, a pretty young woman with the gift of baking out –of-this-world pies. who works as baker and waitress in a small town restaurant by the name of  “Joe’s Pies Café”  

Caught in a loveless an at times abusive marriage, Jenna’s  dreams of  finding love, and her secret ambition is to win the $25,000 prize at a cooking contest, that is held in a town nearby, that would allow her to leave her obnoxious husband. open her own pie shop. and start a new life.

Sadly, on the first scene of the musical, which takes place in the café, Three uniformed waitresses, Jenna (CHRISTINE DWYER) Dawn (JESSIE SHELTON) and Becky (played on opening night by ANASTACIA MCCLESKEY)  are staring at a store-bought Pregnancy test that Jenna had tried to test herself, as Dawn informs her that the test indicates that Jenna is pregnant.

Jessie Shelton, Christine Dwyer and Tatiana Lofton in Waitress Credit Tim Trumble.jpg
L-R Jessie Shelton, Christina Dwyer and Tatiana Lefton as Dawn, Jenna & Becky

WAITRESS the musical was brought to life by a ground breaking all female creative team.
The musical features;

Original music and lyrics by 6-time Grammy® nominee SARA BAREILLES

Book by Acclaimed screenwriter JESSIE NELSON

And Choreography by LORIN LATARRO

The production was directed by Tony Award® winner DIANE PAULUS, (who directed Hair, Pippin and Finding Never land.

The musical follows the same story order that the movie does, but some of the characters in the musical are represented a little bit different than the characters in the movie.

On press opening night, however, Jenna represented by DWYER  on the stage, gave his character the sane realism than KERI RUSSEL (the original Jenna in the movie version) gave her character in the movie. The stage actrees, in the musical,who has a unique timbre of voice, interpreted her songs well, and was able to show the audience a broad rainbow of emotions, which included: fear,  hope, despair, love, giving birth to a child she did not want, and learning, what she wanted from life, how to value her talent, (baking 37 different pies and creating a different pie every day) and taking hold of her own life. DWYER performance on opening night was a great.

Cal (RYAN G.DUNKIN) stayed in character. Joe (LARRY MARSHALL) acted sympathetic and wise and his “Take it from an Old Man” rendition of the song had a lot of feeling.  As one of the waitresses, Dawn  played her role realistically and with humor. and as Ogie (JEREMY MORSE) had the audience in stitches laughing as his antics.

The musical may hacw been more powerful if  the character of  Earl (Jenna’s husband) played by MATT DeANGELIS,) had not been toned down from the character represented in the movie. Maybe those people in the audience who never  saw the movie, needed to be shown on the stage, more of  Earl’s temper tantrums, and his rude aggressive behavior towards Jenna, to be able to  understand Jenna better and maybe even empathize with her

And the acting that may require change in the future, was the impersonation of  Dr Pomatter (JEREMY MORSE) as a shy young nervous obstetrician. On opening night, the actor exaggerated  his portrayal of the character so much, that the first time we saw  Dr. Pomatter on the stage the doctor was behaving more like a comedian than like a physician. The problem was corrected as the musical went on. In the following scenes the physician’s role was portrayed realistically.

The music of the musical was well interpreted by the band. which included Music Director Keyboard ROBERT COOKMAN, Conductor/piano LILLI WOSK, Drums ELENA BONOMO, Bass LEXI BODICK ,Cello/Guitar NICK ANTON, guitar ED HAMILTON and Music coordinator JOHN MILLER.

All the songs were well sang, but on opening night. those people in the back of the main floor could hardly hear some of the lyrics because it may have been a problem with the sound system.

Ryan G. Dunkin and the Cast of the National Tour of WAITRESS  Credit Joan Marcus 0385r.jpg
L-to R Ryan G.Dunking and the National Tour Cast of WAITRESS
(photo by Joan Marcus)

As presented, WAITRESS the musical was an excellent show. One of those shows who manages to pull the strings on the audience's hearts. On its opening night, it was received with a long standing ovation. And as the audience left the theatre, some may have ponder if Jenna’s behavior, as a waitress, as a friend, as a wife, as a lover, as a mother and as a human being, was not even better than all  her pies.

WAITRESS will play at the SHN GOLDEN GATE THEATRE 1 Taylor Street in San Francisco and AL ROKER will join the cast through November 18. For tickets you can go online to www.shnsf.com or call 888-746-1799.