By Amy Ellis Winter
On Tuesday 26th of April, New Theatre Oxford kindly invited my friend Vedika and I to attend the opening and press night of the musical comedy ‘Waitress’ as they begin their four-month UK tour. Upon arrival, we were escorted to the piano bar, adorned with ‘Waitress’ inspired décor, where we were treated to glasses of Prosecco and elderflower alongside ‘Waitress’ themed cupcakes (even enjoying conversation with a successful Youtuber!).
Prior to the show, Vedika and I had not heard the soundtrack of ‘Waitress’, nor were either of us familiar with the plot so as a huge musical fan I was excited to see something new and better yet, live for the first time. ‘Waitress’ follows the journey of soon to be mother Jenna and her friends Becky and Dawn who all work at Joe’s Pie Dinner as they explore the world of romance and pursue happiness. Mark Willshire’s Ogie and Matt Jay-Willis’ Dr. Pomatter stole the show with their impeccable comedic timing and Mark’s incredible rendition of ‘Never Ever Getting Rid of Me.’ This was especially impressive since the actor who was cast for Ogie was one of a few cast members who unfortunately caught COVID-19, and Mark had to step in.
Having attended many musicals throughout my life, I’m always looking for something original and unlike anything I have seen before. Thus, I was thrilled to see that the band not only appeared on stage, as opposed to hidden in the orchestra pit, but they interacted with the cast as though they were also customers at Joe’s Pie Diner. The band members moved across the stage at ease with their instruments, almost creating another character and carried themselves so naturally that I forgot they weren’t members of the acting cast! Furthermore, the set design was fantastic. The traditional American diner aesthetic was perfected, and I was happy to see the classic neon signs hanging above the stage – a fun, familiar characteristic I always associate with the diners.
Attending the opening and press night of ‘Waitress’ was an incredible experience and I’d love to be able to do it all over again. ‘Waitress’ UK is on tour until August 20th and it is definitely not one to be missed so make sure you grab tickets! To check out the upcoming shows taking place at New Theatre, Oxford, click this link: https://www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-theatre-oxford/