08/03/2022, Newcastle Theatre Royal
Opening up! It’s the first night of Waitress in Newcastle on it’s extensive UK and Ireland tour. Adapted from the 2007 film of the same name containing songs by Sara Bareilles, Waitress tells the story of Jenna Hunterson (Chelsea Halfpenny), waitress and pie making extraordinaire who is dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, an unsupportive husband and an unbelievably good looking new doctor. Keep reading to find out our five reasons to see Waitress.
1. Chelsea Halfpenny as Jenna Hunterson
For the first leg of this tour, Lucie Jones (who played Jenna in the West End) was cast as Jenna before taking the role of Elphaba in Wicked in the West End meaning she had to drop out of the rest of this tour. Having been left some very big shoes to fill, Newcastle born actor Chelsea Halfpenny (Emmerdale, 9to5) takes on this main role and takes it in her stride perfectly. With few theatre credits to her name, Halfpenny really does surpass any expectations as Jenna, creating the witty, loveable and vulnerable character exactly how she should be. Her voice is stunning too as she smashes ‘She Used To Be Mine’ in act 2.
2. It’s so slick!
Hats off to the ensemble here, the show transitions from scene to scene seamlessly with the cast moving the set on and off the stage. A real stand out is how the props are all used. Each time there’s a baking scene (oh there’s a few!) the ensemble are sneaking around Jenna, secretly passing each ingredient to her and collecting the last as she creates her masterpieces in front of your eyes. The whole thing is like some sort of GBBO choreography week and we are here for it!
3. It’s got all the emotions
Not only is Waitress really funny (specifically performances by Sandra Marvin (Becky) and George Crawford (Ogie) have the audience in stitches), the show is very moving too. As Jenna (Halfpenny) has flashback scenes to baking with her mother there’s a beautiful relationship without any lines at all and the hospital scene for any parents like ourselves really hit home and had us both shedding a tear. The dramatic tension between Earl (Tamlyn Henderson) and Jenna (Halfpenny) could be cut with a knife; superb acting.
A special shout-out goes to Aimée Fisher who made her debut as Dawn at this performance and was absolutely wonderful. Her ability to bring so much humour and heart to the role was excellent.
4. It gets ‘stung casing’ just right
Waitress is a show that in London had its fair share of stunt casting, particularly in the role of Ogie, which at times didn’t go down so well with musical theatre fans (Crawford here far superior to the Ogie we saw in the West End). With his face all over the flyers and promotion for this tour, Matt Willis (Busted) is performing as Dr Pomatter, taking on the role after the legendary David Hunter in the West End. Willis is such an excellent Pomatter, keeping the character likeable, nervous and influential throughout. Willis’ voice does sound traditionally ‘rock’ at times when there’s passion in a song but it works so well for the character and we couldn’t fault him.
5. The songs will stay in your head for days!
Every number within this show is so well written and so much of an ear worm that you’ll almost definitely be getting the soundtrack on for the way home and the days that follow too! Sara Bareilles has created songs that tie in so well with the story, and as for ‘She Used To Be Mine’, this song quite rightly has already gone down in musical theatre history as one of the greatest.
So, in conclusion, Waitress UK and Ireland tour has exceeded any expectations we had, and we have enjoyed it more than when we caught it in the West End. There’s so much to love in this show, even with a questionable storyline for our protagonists you still can’t help but fall for them too. Make sure to catch this excellent show at Newcastle Theatre Royal where it’s showing until Saturday 12th March, and find the remaining dates by clicking here!