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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Sandra Marvin. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Waitress, New Wimbledon Theatre | Review


Waitress (UK Tour) 
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 7th September by Hope Priddle
★★★★

On the menu at Wimbledon Theatre this week, Waitress the Musical follows Jenna Hunterson (Lucie Jones)an aspiring baker who, with the support of her colleagues and dreamy gynecologist, imagines an escape from her provincial life and unhappy marriage. Based on the 2007 film by the late Adrienne Shelly, Waitress is a bittersweet story of friendship, love and finding yourselfwith (nearly) all the ingredients for a tasty theatrical treat.

 

Music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles add flavour and spice to this quaint story; her playful, folk-pop score is full of frolicking motifs, followed by some gorgeous reflective numbers. They accompany book by Jessie Nelson which is delightfully witty and whimsical throughout, but sometimes suffers from its more casual tone. 

 

We are introduced to a collective of characters who are wholly endearing yet undeniably flawed, and it is refreshing to spend time with such imperfect and compromised characters. However, their poor choices often lack consequence and the stakes never quite feel high enough. Likewise, the shows treatment of domestic violence is lacking. Her abusive marriage to tip-stealing husband Earl - played by Tamlyn Hendersonwho nonetheless deftly balances the fine line between comedic stock villain and insidious manipulator - is explored in a just a few short scenes which are uncomfortably inserted into the narrative. Though pitched as a feminist drama, any moral message is half baked.

 

Jones steals our heart as weary waitress Jenna, giving a sensitive and nuanced performance which perfectly reflects the heartache, anguish and disappointment of our begrudgingly pregnant protagonist. Her buttery vocals are rich and controlled; her control and clarity unsurpassed. Jones’ soaring rendition of She Used To Be Mine across a silent auditorium scored a well-deserved mid-show ovation.

 

Jenna’s colleagues are equally well cast. Evelyn Hoskins is totally loveable as the adorably anxious Dawn, whose slow burning affection and excitement for new beau Ogie, brought to life with a welcome touch of innocence and youthfulness by George Crawford, is joyous to watch. Sandra Marvin similarly packs a punch as the feisty, lively yet loyal Becky. 

 

The duo provides comfort and advice to the expectant mother as she cautiously begins to imagine a new life for herself and her baby. Waitress offers such a lovely, intimate insight into female friendship, and it is in these quieter moments that the show really lands. As Dr Pomatter, Jenna’s forbidden love interest, Matt Willis proves himself to be a highly capable actor, capturing the character’s goofy and bumbling demeanour with ease. It is just a shame that his slightly nasally vocals are lost in his duets with Jones.

 

Lorin Latarro’s choreography is inspired, with instructive and empathetic gesturing by the ensemble used to cleverly mirror the movements of the lead characters. As Jenna goes into labour during Contraction Balletfemale quartet pulsate and swell perfectly in time. The ensemble is so in sync throughout and are truly mesmerising to watch.

 

Latarro’s routines are complemented by tastefully restrained lighting design (Ken Billington) that features but a series of coloured spotlights. Likewise, both set (Scott Pask) and costume (Suttirat Anne Larlarbare simplistic, if not a tad twee, but offer a sense of familiarity and warmth which gives the show heart. final special mention must go to on-stage band that seamlessly integrate themselves into the diner landscape – you wonder if their music is meant to be diegetic given how often we see into Jenna’s mind as she creates her fantastical pies.  

 

Waitress isn’t perfect, but it most certainly serves the audience with a little slice of happiness pie. Surely they’ll be coming back for second helpings?


Photo credit: Johan Persson

Monday, 14 February 2022

Waitress (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


Waitress (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 14th February 2022
★★★★

The dish of the day at the New Victoria Theatre this Valentines day is Waitress the Musical which follows Jenna Hunterson (Chelsea Halfpenny) an aspiring baker who wants nothing more than to escape her life and unhappy marriage. With the help of her colleagues and new gynaecologist, her dreams start to become possible as she bakes herself a new life. It's a heartwarming tale of romantic and platonic love, that is a sweet treat indeed.

Based on the film of the same name written by Adrienne Shelly, the stage version adds the extra ingredient of Sara Bareilles' score. Memorable, folky songs are a joy to watch and feature a number of gorgeous motifs which appear throughout. There is a great mixture of humourous numbers, as well as more emotional, reflective ones. The book by Jessie Nelson is dotted with wit and whimsy but occasionally feels a little underdeveloped with some moral ambiguity that is never resolved.

As leading lady, Chelsea Halfpenny is an utter delight in the role of Jenna. Vocally she is faultless and gives a beautifully nuanced performance full of charm and warmth. Her comedic timing is wonderful and she also brings Jenna's vulnerable side to life truthfully. 

As her friends, Becky and Dawn, Sandra Marvin and Evelyn Hoskins are marvellous. Evelyn is completely adorable as Dawn, bringing the house down with her laughs and her completely frenetic performance that oozes humour. As her partner in crime, Ogie, George Crawford is completely stellar. His comedy chops completely shine and are matched by his great vocals.

As Dr Pomatter, Jenna's gynaecologist and love interest, Nathanael Landskroner is brilliantly bumbling. His chemistry with Chelsea is glorious to watch and he also matches her perfectly in terms of vocals and they really complement one another. The ensemble also work together like a well-oiled machine.

Just like the ensemble, Scott Pask's set and Lorin Latarro's fine-tuned choreography work seamlessly together. They are not only incredibly in sync with the whole show but are also greatly reflective of the story and emotions; with the set literally coming to life and expanding as Jenna finds herself. 

Waitress is an intimate show which transfers wonderfully for touring venues. Despite its faults, it's almost baked to perfection. Excellent performances and major whimsy make it a stagey slice of sweetness that's well worth seeing. 

Waitress plays at the New Victoria Theatre until 19th February 2022 and then continues its tour

photo credit: Johan Persson