The magic set that moves and melds from diner, to the title role waitress’ living room, and then to her gynecologist office is “cute” …
The imaginative names that the title role waitress names her daily pie creations to signal her inner life status are “cute”…
Fellow waitresses—one a long suffering hard ass with an invalid husband at home (Charity Angél Dawson) and the other an Revolutionary War re-enacter who has a hard time getting over her shyness to find a man (Lenne Klingaman) and then finds him in quirky Ogie (Jeremy Morse)—are “cute”.
But most of all, it’s Jenna, the golden haired title role waitress herself (Desi Oakley) who is “cute” – and her likability is the glue that holds the story line together.
By this reviewer’s lights, the music too might be called “cute” rather than musical theater masterpieces on par with Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rodgers and Hammerstein, etc.
That said, every song is more than given its due by this cast’s strong voices—from lead to ensemble. The songs create momentum and do most of the tale telling.
In a loveless marriage, Jenna finds solace in her baked pie creations and is encouraged to enter a pie making contest by her friends and also a particular crotchedy customer Joe who is a regular (Larry Marshall). When she finds out she is pregnant her world is turned upside down, and especially since it also launches an affair with her somewhat awkward gynecologist Dr. Pomatter (Bryan Fenkart).
The musical (Book-Jessie Nelson and Music/Lyrics by Sara Bareilles) is based on an earlier film by Adrienne Shelley. The music – even when lyrics are about serious stuff- have, at least for this writer a light as whipped cream on a good pie feel that lightens up the underlying story. It’s so light and breezy one can imagine it as good summer family outing fare. BUT- and it’s a big BUT—it’s a plot line full of philandering and illicit affairs, which means a Parental Guidance warning may be in order.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
DESI OAKLEY ( Jenna )
CHARITY ANGÉL DAWSON ( Becky )
LENNE KLINGAMAN ( Dawn)
BRYAN FENKART ( Dr. Pomatter
NICK BAILEY (Earl)
LARRY MARSHALL ( Joe) Jesus Christ Superstar !
RYAN G. DUNKIN ( Cal )
JEREMY MORSE ( Ogie)
SKYLER ADAMS ( Swing, Dance Captain, u/s Pomatter
CHANTE CARMEL (Ensemble, u/s Becky)
MARK CHRISTINE ( Ensemble, u/s Cal, u/s Ogie )
JIM HOGAN ( Ensemble, u/s Dr. Pomatter, u/s Ogie, u/s Earl )
DAVID HUGHEY ( Swing, u/s Cal, u/s Joe )
DONTERRIO JOHNSON ( Ensemble, u/s Joe)
KYRA KENNEDY ( Ensemble, u/s Jenna, u/s Dawn ).
EMILY KOCH ( Swing, u/s Jenna , u/s Dawn)
MAIESHA MCQUEEN ( Ensemble, Nurse Norma, u/s Becky )
GERIANNE PÉREZ ( Ensemble, u/s Dawn )
GRACE STOCKDALE ( Ensemble, u/s Jenna)
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago
Thru July 22
Tuesdays at 7:30PM
Wednesdays at 2:00PM & 7:30PM
Thursdays at 7:30PM (Added 2:00PM matinee on July 5)
Fridays at 7:30PM
Saturdays at 2:00PM and 8:00PM
Sundays at 2:00PM (Added 7:30PM evening performance on July 8)
Cadillac Palace Theatre
151 W. Randolph
Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000 and online at the Broadway in Chicago website.
Photos courtesy of Broadway in Chicago