On January 8th, a friend and I went into Manhattan and got on line for the tkts booth in Times Square. (For those who are unfamiliar, tkts sells discounted tickets for Broadway and Off-Broadway performances happening the day that you get on line. It's definitely spontaneous since you don't really know what they're going to have show-wise or seat-wise until you get there, but that makes it more fun! Especially since you can't get anything that bad) Peering at the electronic signs and online availability list, we narrowed our options of what shows to ask for down, approached the box office window, and soon enough we had two tickets to that night's performance of "Waitress."
I'd been hearing great things about this show for a while- it was nominated for a bunch of Tony Awards back in 2016, I knew several fans of the music, and I liked Sara Bareilles, who composed all the music- so I knew I was in for a treat. However, I was absolutely not prepared for how incredible it actually was.
There was just so much to love. It's live theatre, first of all, and live theatre at a Broadway level. We're all accustomed to watching the action through screens, but physically being in the environment where the story is playing out and seeing everything happen to real people on a real set, right in front of your eyes, is totally different. Though there's always some "Broadway magic" that goes into theatre to keep you in the story, you still see a lot of what goes into a production like this, from set changes to people who can jump all over the stage without it making their voices sound bad.
"Waitress," though, took all that and really did something beautiful with it. It has sadder, darker topics that made me tear up (and I definitely heard/saw people around me crying) and yet was also able to turn around, put a huge smile on my face, and make me laugh so much. Each character is unique, lovable (mostly- you hate the one you're supposed to hate), and was both written and portrayed so believable that, in combination with Sara Bareilles's gorgeous score, the show has such potential to move you emotionally. The dialogue is really good, but it's through the songs that you learn the most about the majority of these characters. Every one of them has the ability to make you feel something- some can make you laugh even when just listening to the soundtrack but bring it to a new level when it's performed live some warm your heart, and some break it. The words and the music do exactly what they need to when they need to. I can honestly say there isn't a song that I don't like, especially after seeing them all in context.
The best part of it all, though, is how human every single aspect of it was. The stage was set up so, for some scenes, you could see the band at work. The actors react and make each their choices in real time, right there. While some of the set changes were automated, others were taken care of by cast members. And yes, the whole cast was amazing- but my friend and I also had the privilege of getting to see Sara Bareilles herself play the lead. With pop singers, it's easy for us to forget that they are real people, too, which made seeing her live so cool, but it was more than that. To write a whole musical's worth of music, get nominated for a Tony Award for it, memorize all the choreography and stage directions, and portray the leading lady is not something that everyone can do. Witnessing such an incredible artist at work, in person, absolutely blew me away. Like I said- it's all human.
Basically, if you couldn't tell, I have fallen in love with this show. My friend felt the same, and we spent the whole walk back to the train station gushing about what we had just seen (and later texted about it for several days). If you have the resources, go see it. It is a beautiful piece of art and deserves all the praise it can get.