Waitress is more than just a musical about a pregnant woman trapped in an unhappy marriage with a passion for baking pies. It is a compelling and moving story about an independent woman who has lost her sense of self through an abusive relationship and is looking to create a better life for her and her newborn. Last Sunday, September 4th, my college took a group of us incoming freshmen on a day trip into NYC to see the Broadway musical, Waitress. I had never been to a Broadway show before, and I was extremely excited although I didn't really know the storyline ahead of time or what to expect. Let me tell you, the show really exceeded any possible expectations I might have had. For starters, the whole entire cast was incredibly talented. From their acting to their singing, they were all top notch. Jessie Mueller, who plays the lead role of Jenna, especially stole the show. Her stage presence and pure talent is simply undeniable. Jessie recites all her lines with passionate ease and when she belts out the songs, the whole audience is completely captivated in awe and amazement. Her voice is truly like no other and the way that she is able to effortlessly hold out those notes in perfect pitch but also convey the strong emotional messages behind each song is truly a gift. Secondly, the plot of the story had so much depth and symbolism behind it. So many aspects of the musical, such as how the main character is trapped in an unhappy relationship constrained by lack of financial security and the struggle to muster up the self-confidence to follow her dreams are very relatable life problems displayed in the play. Sarah Bareilles wrote many inspirational and incredible songs for the soundtrack for Waitress. For each scene, there seemed to be a perfectly written song to capture the emotions of the characters and the overall themes and plots of the play. One of the most poignantly powerful songs in the play was Mueller's performance of 'She Used To Be Mine.' In the scene in which this song is sung, Jenna is extremely down on herself and her life. She reflects on the girl she used to be as opposed to who she is now. And towards the end of the song, she realizes the girl she was is still there deep inside and that she has the power to live the life she's always dreamed. Lyrics like 'she's imperfect but she tries', 'she is broken and won't ask for help', 'she is messy but she's kind', 'she is lonely most of the time' and 'she is gone but she used to be mine' really pull at the heartstrings. I know there's been several times in my life where I've lost my sense of identity, purpose, belonging, and direction, so I can definitely relate to these lyrics. But towards the end of the song, lyrics such as 'growing stronger each day',
'til it finally reminds her', 'to fight just a little', and 'to bring back the fire in her eyes' provide positivity and hope that if we don't like the path we're on or who we're becoming, we can always find the strength to make a good change. Lastly, the song "What's Inside" demonstrates one of the most valuable life truths with just three basic household kitchen ingredients: sugar, butter, and flour. This part of the song where she murmurs 'sugar, butter, flour' was repeated multiple times throughout the play. Now, I'm no expert in literature or plays, but usually when a word or phrase is repeated, it bears much significance to the overall concept or idea. I sat in my seat for awhile trying to figure out the importance of these three short, edible words, and I finally came to my own interpretation. Just as sugar is sweet, butter is sticky, and flour is the bland powder that gives the consistency depth, they represent the ultimate mixture of the good, the bad, and everything in between to whip up the perfect pie called life. You can't go through life with just good things happening to you just as you can't go through life with only bad experiences wither. You have to have both, and sometimes they collide and mix together because a memory of something can be bittersweet. All of the experiences, emotions, thoughts, etc. in life that have what we would call both positive and negative aspects ultimately create the perfect pie that is life and the experience of what it means to live, feel, and be human. So go ahead, take a slice of pie with its satisfying sugary and buttery blend, savor each blissful bite, and live the life you've always dreamed.
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