Tag Archives: marisha wallace

Waitress (Adelphi Theatre)

With a week to press night, Waitress is proving to have the makings of another hit from across the pond.

Based on Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 film, with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, this new musical centres on Jenna (Katharine McPhee) and her two fellow waitresses at Joe’s Diner.

Katharine McPhee, Laura Baldwin and Marisha Wallace.Photo credit Johan Persson.

Katharine McPhee, Laura Baldwin and Marisha Wallace. Photo credit Johan Persson.

Jenna is unhappily stuck in a marriage made when she and Earl (Peter Hannah) were both too young and foolish: now he belittles her gifts and takes her money.

Becky (Marisha Wallace) cares for a sick husband and finds knee-trembling fun on the side with her boss Cal (Stephen Leask), while nerdy Dawn (Laura Baldwin) finds love with the proposterous amateur magician Okie (Jack McBrayer).

When Jenna finds herself pregnant after a night of drunk sex with the husband she loathes, it is a catalyst both for her retreat into dreamy recipes she creates for all situations, and a stab at happiness with her married doctor (David Hunter).

Jack McBrayer and Marisha Wallace

Jack McBrayer and Marisha Wallace. Photo credit Johan Persson

The first act is largely comic, despite the spectre of domestic violence. Dawn and Okie’s courtship gives us a lot of fun, and Becky’s sass has free reign.

By the second act, we see Jenna and Becky more clearly, even Cal, who states he is “happy enough”. And old Joe (Shaun Prendergast) is the bringer of fairy dust and happy endings of the kind that just don’t happen in real life.

Katharine McPhee. Photo credit Johan Persson.

Katharine McPhee. Photo credit Johan Persson.

With a score which manages to be both witty and at times, emotionally engaging (Jenna’s big number “She Used To Be Mine”), Waitress is a welcome addition to the musical scene.

It feels almost churlish to have misgivings about some plot points around female empowerment, infidelity and obsession, but they stop this show just short of being perfect.

Last night there was a slight mishap early on with a missing piece of pie, deftly handled in character by all; and there are on-set jokes around the names of pies to amuse in a normal run.

Waitress continues at the Adelphi and is booking until the 19th October 2019.

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Dreamgirls (Savoy)

Now coming to the end of a two and a bit year run, Dreamgirls remains a spectacle with numerous set and costume changes, and a killer of a first act closer in “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”, which at this performance Marisha Wallace delivered with devastating style and emotion. That girl can sing!

Marisha Wallace in Dreamgirls. Photo by
Brinkhoff & Mögenburg.

This story feels a bit like the real-life one of The Supremes, in which one of the trio becomes pre-eminent over the others. In Dreamgirls, Effie White, larger than life in voice and body, sings lead until pushy Curtis, their new manager, decides to trade her in personally and professionally for one of the back-up girls, Deena.

In the meantime, third girl Lorelle is content to remain as back-up and as girlfriend to married showman Jimmy Early, who has a definite Little Richard vibe going on. Over time, the rechristened Dreams cross over into the white market, leaving Effie by the wayside until the (inevitable) comeback.

Dreamgirls poster
Dreamgirls poster

There’s not a great storyline here, and that act one closing declaration of courage, love, and resilience, doesn’t make much sense when the character singing it goes into semi-retirement for seven years before act two, but there are some great musical moments and in Wallace, Brennyn Lark (Deena), Asmeret Ghebremichael (Lorelle), Joe Aaron Reid (Curtis) and Tosh Wanogha-Maud (Jimmy) there are some charismatic and talented performers on display.

Henry Krieger’s score is on point to the period, and Casey Nicholaw directs with more than an nod to Michael Bennett’s original work, given the latter’s prominent credit in the programme. There have been snips and changes evident if you’re familiar with the Jennifer Hudson/Beyonce film, but this show retains a high energy and entertainment value to the end.


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