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Waitress - UK and Ireland Tour - Curve Review.

The musical adaptation of the 2007 movie Waitress has enjoyed successful runs in London's West End and on Broadway. Now the musical is hitting the road and touring the UK and Ireland and has opened the diner doors in Leicester for the first time offering a sweet and delicious evening of musical theatre.

Based on Adrienne Shelly's movie screenplay the musical follows Jenna, a baker, and waitress who is struggling to live with her abusive partner. Jenna becomes pregnant and this inspires her to want to change her life and her own destiny.

Sandra Marvin 'Becky', Chelsea Halfpenny 'Jenna' and Evelyn Hoskins 'Dawn'. Photo by Johan Persson

At times Jessie Nelson's script does feel a little laboured in the pacing and that could be zipped along a little. My personal problem is, and maybe it's the show possibly not being aimed at a 30-year-old male, that some of the characters are difficult to connect with. You question some of their choices, especially why Jenna's two best friends wouldn't offer her a way out of her abusive relationship sooner. 

If the script does lack a little then it's more than made up for in the score written by Sara Bareilles. The music is gorgeous throughout, a toe-tapping score is delivered with real gusto by the on-stage band of 6 under musical director Ellen Campbell. Sweeping ballads or heartfelt solos fill the stage. Bareilles has a real skill for combining melody with wonderful lyrics and the music is the heart of the show.

The production is brilliantly brought to life and visually it's a feast for the eyes as you watch Jenna craft her pies. The set design by Scott Pask creates this colourful world on stage, that begins with the pre-show curtain which is of the top of a pie. The energetic company, choreography by Lorin Latarro, and the use of props further enhance the world that is created on stage.

Leading the production on the opening night at Curve was understudy Aimée Fisher as Jenna. Right from the opening scene, Fisher shone. Her performance is right up there with not only the finest understudies I've seen but with generally any leading lady. Fisher's voice was mesmeric, her two big solo numbers 'What Baking Can Do' and 'She Used To Be Mine' I felt deeply in my core, my body tingled as the hairs stood on end and she hit belting big notes. An outstanding performance.

Evelyn Hoskins 'Dawn' and the Waitress Company. Photo by Johan Persson

Two further magnificent performances come from Evelyn Hoskins as Dawn and Sandra Marvin as Becky. Both manage to characterise the roles really well and light up the stage in every moment. Hoskins manages to carry Dawn's transformation with a real likeable charm. Marvin's booming voice carries real power and she is hilarious to watch at delivering the comedy and commanding the stage with real assurance and confidence.  

Matt Jay-Willis impresses as Dr. Pomatter, and the passionate 'Bad Idea (Reprise)' is certainly memorable. George Crawford has a couple of fantastically over-the-top moments as Ogie, something Crawford nails without being too ridiculous. Christopher D. Hunt does a fine job with making Cal both a bit moody but also really likable - and he alongside Marvin's Becky is a riot of fun. Michael Starke's Joe is lovely, especially in the latter more touching scenes with Jenna, remaining constant support for her following her dreams. Tamlyn Henderson has the right amount of strength and nastiness as Jenna's abusive partner, Earl, and carries the villain tag well. Special mention must go to Eadie Mae Johnson who makes a delightful late cameo as Lulu.

Waitress is like eating a lovely warm pie, the layers all combine to make for a tasty treat that will leave you feeling uplifted by the end. It's all baked together and realised with real skill and you'll certainly go out with a song in your heart and the urge for a slice of pastry goodness!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Waitress continues at Curve until Saturday 29th January 2022, tickets are available from www.curveonline.co.uk. The tour continues thereafter, tickets are available from https://www.waitressthemusical.co.uk/

Matt Jay-Willis 'Dr. Pomatter' and Chelsea Halfpenny 'Jenna'. Photo by Johan Persson

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