I know this is a little out of the norm for me but today I’m writing about a musical I saw last weekend. And no, it’s not Hamilton (which if you know me at all you know that I’m obsessed with it). It’s Waitress. And it is pure perfection.
What does this have to do with my usual mommy blogging? Well…a lot, actually. It is quite honestly one of the best musicals about motherhood that I’ve ever seen and since Mother’s Day is just around the corner, I thought I’d send some Waitress love out into the bloggityverse.
Some of you may know the 2007 movie “Waitress” with Keri Russell. The musical is based off of this movie and the music & lyrics are written by the possibly immortal and definitely perfect, Sara Bareilles. I got the chance to see Waitress last weekend and I haven’t stopped thinking about it for even one second since.
Admittedly, I went into it thinking “eh, it’ll be cute if nothing else and I have to support Sara because I worship her and Jessie Mueller is amaze so let’s do this!” I certainly didn’t think that I would spend the last half of the show snot-crying because of ALL THE FEELINGS.
If you haven’t seen the movie, stop everything you’re doing and watch it right now. It’s one of the best movies ever made and I feel like not enough people know about it. It was written by Adrienne Shelley who was tragically killed before the movie was released at Sundance. It went on to win all the awards and is just wonderful. It’s all about Jenna, a southern girl who is stuck in a crappy marriage with a jerkface husband. She works at a little side-of-the-road pie diner and winds up preggo even though she hates her husband – he got her drunk one night and bing, bang, boom, a wee one was about to be born into a rotten marriage in the middle of nowhere. Something the show touches on that the movie doesn’t is Jenna’s obvious love for her mother who passed away. It seems her mother was in a similar terrible marriage and was often a victim of physical abuse on top of the emotional abuse and never had the guts or means to ditch the man. Jenna’s mom hid from her horrors by taking Jenna into the kitchen and baking pies for hours. The pies were funky and awesome and were a way for them to escape the awful in their home. Because of her mother’s pie baking lessons, Jenna is an incredible pie baker herself and hides from her horror by baking pies as well. Throw in a little affair with her OB/GYN, a quirky cast of characters who are beyond charming, and a hard fought for happy ending and you’ve got the show.
Here are some fun facts about the musical. The movie upon which it is based was written by a woman. Adrienne Shelley was an incredible screen writer and actress and the world will never know the other strong lady-stories she probably had in store for us. The creative team for the musical is the first all-female creative team on Broadway. Ever. That is a really really big deal and it makes my feminist heart sing! Jessie Nelson wrote the book (AKA the libretto or the narrative of the musical that keeps it from being a whole mess of songs), Lorin Latarro is the choreographer, Diane Paulus is the director, and Sara Bareilles wrote the music and lyrics. These women are powerhouses who have just, perhaps without even knowing it, changed the Broadway landscape for good.
The cast is full of ridiculou talents that basically left me in awe. Jessie Mueller plays Jenna. Jessie won a Tony Award for her role as Carole King in the musical Beautiful and she hasn’t slowed down since. Before Waitress made its move to Broadway, it had its out-of-town try out in Boston and Jessie originated the role of Jenna in Bean Town. Eric Anderson plays Cal. The sort of white trash diner runner who acts like a meanie but is really a sweetie. Kimiko Glenn plays Dawn and you probably know her from Orange is the New Black. She exceptional. Keala Settle plays Becky and has you laughing the whole time. The rest of the cast is just phenomenal and keeps a smile on your face the whole time.
Now, why did I cry for the last half of the show? Because of this song.
I have never ever heard a song that more perfectly captures what it’s like the moment you become a mother than this. It made me want to race home and grab my children and tell them how much I love them. It made me want to tell myself that all the uncertainty in my life is going to work out and that no matter how bad it gets, it’s always better because of the sweet souls that call me mom. It made me think of all it took to become a mother – all the terror, all the pain, all the worry…it made me realize that all of those feelings are real and normal and if that can be conveyed to even one woman sitting in that audience than Sara Bareilles and the rest of the people behind Waitress have been successful.
Motherhood gives you a bravery that you never knew you possessed. No matter how your babies get here, the second you hold them or meet them, you can do anything. Absolutely anything. The team behind Waitress captured that new-found maternal bravery so well. It was so profound and sweet and empowering. Jenna didn’t need to be afraid anymore, she had her baby and she looked at her husband and told him to get lost (oops, spoiler alert). That’s all the help she needed. The knowledge that she just brought a human into the world and with that child by her side she was braver than the most valiant warrior. She was a part of the mommyhood now and with that superpower, she could now do anything.
That was the reason why the idiot next to me on her phone through the whole show looked at me like I was crazy for crying so hard. Add this song to the rest of the score and it’s just a recipe (pun intended) for perfection.
I want to thank the cast, crew, and creative team of Waitress for giving me the fuel I needed to get through each day of motherhood. I know it sounds cheesy but theatre gives me this kind of power. Sitting in a quiet theatre with nothing else to focus on but the story playing out in front of me fills my canteen. And to watch something so uplifting, justifying, and empowering as Waitress was an added treat.
If you can’t get to NYC to see the show, don’t you worry. It’s going on tour. There will also be a cast album in July and until then you can hear snippets from it here. At the very least, watch the movie. It’ll change your life.