"Waitress" serves up comedy and romance at the Civic Theatre. Photograph by Joan Marcus
From the end of Act One through the first half-hour or so of Act Two, it appears as if everyone in the musical Waitress is in heat. Maybe it has something to do with all that pie.
Having her share of the fun is pregnant Jenna Hunterson (Christine Dwyer), a waitress at Joe’s Pie Diner in down-home USA who’s having a fling with her gynecologist (Steven Good). When the fling goes full throttle, the pies become nearly as naughty a prop as in the puerile “American Pie” flick. But Waitress, based on the 2007 indie film starring Keri Russell and written by Sara Bareilles (music and lyrics) and Jessie Nelson (book), is not the least puerile. Its take on love, which is really secondary to the search for identity and independence going on with its main character, is never smarmy.
Broadway San Diego has brought Waitress to town for the first time, and not even the dubious acoustics of the Civic Theatre can diminish its charm. Between Bareilles’ breezy ensemble tunes and earnest ballads, the many inventive names for pies, and a cast of characters universally likable (except for Jenna’s intentionally abhorrent spouse), this musical is as savory as pastry right out of the oven.
Waitress runs through Sunday Dec. 2 at the Civic Theatre, downtown. Tickets $26.50 to $126.50. www.broadwaysd.com
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.