REVIEW (EncoreMichigan.com): Touring production of ‘Waitress’ at Wharton deserves a huge tip

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Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley, and Lenne Klingaman star in the touring production of “Waitress.”

If I could leave the touring production of Waitress a tip, it would be a whoppingly huge one, because it’s rare for me to feel so profoundly moved, while also experiencing so much joy, during the course of a show.

Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 indie film hit of the same name – with a book by Jessie Nelson, and Tony Award-nominated music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles – the show tells the story of a small-town, pie-baking Southern waitress named Jenna (Desi Oakley) who’s fallen out of love with her insensitive, insecure husband Earl (Nick Bailey). When Jenna accidentally gets pregnant, she falls for the town’s new, charming gynecologist (Dr. Pomatter, played by Bryan Fenkart) and starts, with the support of her coworker friends (Becky, played by Charity Angel Dawson, and Dawn, played by Lenne Klingaman), to plot a baking-fueled escape from her life.

The first thing that will blow you away is Bareilles’ winning score, which achieves its storytelling ends with ebullient charm, humor, and heart, and makes itself instantly at home in your ear, courtesy of some killer song hooks. Jenna’s standing-at-the-crossroads heartstring-yanker, “She Used to Be Mine,” has become the show’s trademark number for good reason – and Oakley’s rendition soars to the Wharton’s rafters – but I drove home humming and thinking about some new favorites (“Bad Idea,” “Opening Up,” etc.). Not every pop singer/songwriter can seamlessly make the jump from Top 40 to Broadway, but Waitress leaves me anxious to see what theatrical project Bareilles might take up next. READ THE REST HERE

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