They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and that is hope for waitress and soon-to-be-mother Jenna, as she cultivates a new love interest, while tolerating an unhappy, abusive marriage and juggling shifts in a diner.
Add a couple of ingredients; Jenna’s talent for making exquisite pies, the super hot Doctor Pomatter and the incredible friendships she forms with her work colleagues, and that is basically the storyline, but don’t be fooled into thinking this musical has no substance or consistency.
It’s a heart-warming, feel-good composition, with the perfect combination of laughter and tears and a cracking musical score.
How wonderful to see the extremely talented local performer Aimee Fisher appearing as well, as cover for the role of Jenna on the UK tour. It might have been kind to allow Aimee to perform the leading role on press night in her hometown, but we had to be content with seeing her in the ensemble.
There is no doubt however that Chelsea Halfpenny is the perfect Jenna, with an outstanding vocal performance and just the right amount of vulnerability.
She Used to Be Mine, in Act Two, is probably the most recognisable song from Waitress, and Chelsea Halfpenny’s rendition will give you goosebumps it is so emotional and heart-wrenching.
David Hunter as Doctor Pomatter is nothing short of hilarious, yet strangely attractive and again, gave a vocal performance to be proud of.
Jenna’s gal pals, Wendy Mae Brown as Becky, and Evelyn Hoskins as Dawn, steal the show however as far as comedy is concerned, followed very closely by Christopher D Hunt as Cal, the sleazy, scruffy kitchen hand.
When He Sees Me, performed by Wendy Mae Brown, is another highlight, with all the sass this extraordinary actress is known for, as is Take it from An Old Man, sung by veteran soap star Michael Starke as Joe.
The excellent band, under the musical supervision of Ellen Campbell, are on stage with the actors, which works very well as they blend perfectly into the background but are still seen.
From a creative point of view, this really is one for the ladies, presented by the ladies, with an all-female team who obviously bring a feminine touch to the production, but also the strength that only women possess.
Will Waitress stand the test of time? Maybe not, because for me it is a little underwhelming, but for now, let’s be content with this big hug of a musical, which will warm and delight audiences across the country.
Runs until Saturday. Call 01902 429212 or visit grandtheatre.co.uk to book.