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Waitress with Sara Bareilles, Gavin Creel, and Christopher Fitzgerald (spoilers)
Posted by: mikem 11:18 pm EST 02/02/19

I finally caught up to Waitress for today's matinee. This is Sara Bareilles and Gavin Creel's last weekend in the show, and Christopher Fitzgerald rejoined the show last month. I had seen the show during its out-of-town tryout in Boston, but this was my first time since then.

The company was full of energy, perhaps because Bareilles is in the show and there was a full, appreciative house. Given how little acting experience she has, I was expecting Bareilles to be a bit stilted, but she was very natural and comfortable, with a very strong performance. Her "She Used to be Mine" was very affecting. Christopher Fitzgerald is hilarious. I forgot that he won the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk for this performance. He was unfortunate to have come to Broadway with this show during the same season as Hamilton, or he probably would have won the Tony as well. He was really great. Anastacia McClesky as the nurse was also very funny.

I don't remember the show that well from Boston. The main change I noted was that Everything Changes, the song Bareilles sings to her newborn, was much longer in Boston, and talked much more about how profound being a mother was for her. Here, the song cuts off after the first chorus and is more about how everything changes in general.

I wonder if the show might have been written a bit differently if it had been written in the era of MeToo. Fitzgerald is wonderful, but his character starts out as a guy who won't take no for an answer. Dawn tells him she is not interested, but he comes to her workplace anyway and demands that she be his waitress. Fitzgerald is so goofy that it doesn't come across stalker-y, but it easily could. In Boston, I seem to remember more of her directly telling him, "no," and his persisting. Or maybe the actor there (who was not Fitzgerald) was not as disarmingly goofy. The other thing that is a bit uncomfortable is that both Creel and Bareilles's characters are married but they have an affair that the audience is supposed to cheer on. Bareilles's husband was played more as an evil caricature in Boston, but Ben Thompson, who's currently playing him, is clearly playing a "Bad Guy," but he's also troubled and kind of a mess. That doesn't excuse his behavior, but there's a touch of pathos about him that makes it a bit more complicated than him just being the Bad Guy. Gavin Creel plays his character as very boy-ish, and Creel's also a bit goofy; he's very charming, but he's a bit lightweight so it's not such a surprise that Bareilles doesn't see a long-term future with him. Drew Gehling, who played the part in Boston and also originated the part on Broadway, was more serious and seemed like a possible long-term prospect.

If you have a chance to see Bareilles and Creel (leaving tomorrow) and Fitzgerald (leaving Feb 10, but he's left and come back before) and the rest of the cast, I think you'll enjoy seeing their performances. It's not the most profound show ever created, but with this cast, you're in good hands.
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