Currently on Broadway in New York City, Waitress opened its doors for a special performance for the HeForShe Arts Week.
The show follows Jenna (Tony winner Jessie Muller), an expert pie maker working at a diner. Jenna is married to an abusive alcoholic, and works with her two best friends, Becky (Charity Angél Dawson) and Dawn (Caitlin Houlahan). Becky is married to someone she does not want to be with anymore, and Dawn has never had a boyfriend before.
All Jenna wants is way out of her current situation and a better life. Then Jenna finds out she’s pregnant. With a baking contest coming up, a new doctor in town, and a little faith in herself, there is hope for a better life.
The play was a refreshing depiction of how women have the strength and courage to rebuild their lives, each following their own recipe in the pursuit of happiness. To have a main character that did not immediately want to be a mother and was steadfast in her belief that she did not want to be one was unique and refreshing. The play was inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, Waitress, and features an all-female production crew.
The music and lyrics for the show were done by Sara Bareilles and were fantastic. Catchy lyrics paired with an onstage band that was rocking out through the whole show made for an amazing musical experience. The show even featured a funny opening song about turning off your cellphone, because if it were to go off during the show people would hate you.
“Does your ass get jealous of the steady stream of shit coming out of your mouth?’ – Waitress, the Musical
As I walked into the theatre, there was a poster that said that the play was a treat for all the senses. I was taken aback; how could a show even pull that off? Well, it was true. Entering the main doors of the theatre all I could smell was baked goods, and I was instantly drooling. Once I was shown to the seating area, there were women dressed as waitresses selling branded pies in small mason jars, and drinks in branded tumblers. The branding of the show even went so far as decorating the sides of the stage with floor to ceiling rotating glass cases that had dozens of pies in them!
The theatre was packed with people, and when it was announced at the start of the intermission that there would be a panel with the cast, production crew, and representatives of the UN Women’s Network, everyone cheered.
After the second act was over, the first two rows emptied and I got front row seats for the HeForShe panel. The panel had Diane Paulus, director; actresses Charity Angél Dawson and Caitlin Houlahan; as well as Nadia DiGiallonardo, band lead and pianist; and Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General for Intergovernmental Support and Strategic Partnerships with UN Women.
The women on the panel spoke about their inspiration and the challenges they overcame to be where they are today. But the underlying message was clear: follow your dreams, support your fellow women till everyone can soar, and no matter what obstacle life throws at you, you can do anything, be anything, and are worth everything.