Perfect for Our Times, ‘Waitress’ Serves Up Laughs at National Theatre

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"Waitress," at the National Theatre, adds its own voice to the #MeToo movement. Courtesy National Theatre.

If you’re looking for the perfect girls’ night out this summer, “Waitress” is it. Playing at the National Theatre through June 3, the quirky tale with a lot of heart is sure to bring a smile to your face.

The music and lyrics of “Waitress” were written by Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles. The songs are very reminiscent of her hits like “Love Song,” “Brave” and “King of Anything.” The lead song of the show, “Opening Up,” is the best with its catchiness and optimistic nature.

“Waitress” is definitely for the 13-and-up set, as there are some curse words and mature themes. It seems to have a cult following, as the girlfriends were overheard excitedly telling friends they had seen the Broadway version in New York City and couldn’t wait to see it in Washington, D.C.

The show centers on small town diner waitress Jenna, who has inherited her mother’s ability to bake killer pies. Along with her two waitress friends Becky and Dawn, the trio work with their customers’ odd requests and their own love lives. Jenna is in an abusive marriage while Becky and Dawn are searching for romantic fulfillment.

Jenna finds out she’s pregnant early on and the audience is taken on her journey, from finding out, to her visits with her doctor, discovering a pie-making contest is coming to town and gaining the strength to stand up to her abusive husband.

During Jenna’s adventures, comic relief comes with Dawn’s love interest Ogie. Jeremy Morse, who plays the bizarre, Paul Revere-loving man, steals the show. He had the audience in stitches for all of his scenes.

Without giving too much away, while cheering for Jenna and her love interest is fun, the true center of the story is the friendship and love among Jenna, Becky and Dawn. In this dawning of a new age of feminism, the #MeToo movement and women taking back the workplace, “Waitress” is the perfect musical for today’s world.

Desi Oakley, who plays Jenna, auditioned for the show because of her love of Sara Bareilles. A lover of her music for years and a singer-songwriter herself, Oakley felt drawn to the show. “One of the hardest parts of playing Jenna is that her role is so emotional,” Oakley said. “It’s a real, down-to-earth story of a woman who is not in the most ideal of circumstances.”

Oakley appreciates that Jenna is a kind character and selfless to a fault. “Her friends try to open her eyes to reality but she deflects and puts it all into pie,” she said. “She doesn’t want to be a bother to people and is so funny and relatable in the process.”

Also, Oakley loves that Jenna goes from deflecting and burying problems to recognizing and addressing issues and then making choices for herself. “There’s a real openness and change within her,” she added.

D.C. is one city where the touring company is staying in the longest. Typically, the company travels on their day off, playing one week in each city. Oakley is spending her extra days in the nation’s capital by going to the African American History Museum, exploring the Logan Circle restaurant scene and biking along the National Mall.

“Waitress” runs through June 3 at the NationalTheatre — theNationalDC.org.

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