Waitress the Book transformed into a Musical


Photo Credit: Photo by Christia Assa with Permission used by Christia Assa

Playbill for the Waitress Musical at Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

By: Christia Assa, Managing Editor

The Musical Waitress was played in Brooks Atkinson Theatre. It officially opened on April 24, 2016, but was then closed January 5, 2020. The musical had a total of 33 previews and 1,544 regular performances. 


Waitress the Musical was originally a book written by Adrienne Shelly. She has written many novels including I’ll Take You There and The Unbelievable Truth. In 2015 Shelly’s novel Waitress was turned into a musical by composer Sara Bareilles. When the musical first came out Bareilles played the lead role, Jenna. The musical was played in Brooks Atkinson Theatre. It officially opened on April 24, 2016, but was then closed January 5, 2020. The musical had a total of 33 previews and 1,544 regular performances.


Waitress is an empowering story about a woman named Jenna who is a waitress that loves to bake pies. She works alongside her two best friends, Dawn and Becky, who’s constantly supporting her. In the beginning of the show Jenna finds out she is pregnant, but she is in an abusive relationship with the father of her baby. In addition, she wants to get out of the relationship to provide a better life for her unborn child. Earl, her husband, takes her tips she earns, so she secretly saves up money and hides it away. Also, Jenna was suggested to compete in a baking contest where she is able to win enough money to leave her husband. 


I went to watch Waitress in summer of 2019. Jenna was played by Alison Luff, Becky was played by Charity Angel Dawson, and Dawn was played by Kimiko Glenn. The moment you step foot into the theater the smell of fresh baked pie fills the air. The aroma automatically makes you feel like you are a part of the show.

Each of the actresses and actors portrayed their character well. Overall, the story line was phenomenal; there were waves of emotions throughout the show. One moment you are dying of laughter the next your heart aches for a character. It was really compelling and you were completely into the show waiting for what was going to happen next.

In addition, their voices were incredible and I was taken aback each time they sang. Their voices and harmonies blended well together. They did not only sing, but were able to perform and stay in character. When they sing you are able to see and feel their emotions. In particular, Glenn was able to stick with Dawn’s accent while she sings. Also, in the song “When He Sees Me”, where Dawn is a nervous-wreck, Glenn managed to portray Dawns feelings through her facial expressions and actions while singing.

If you do not like watching sexual encounters, affairs, and abuse you should not watch this musical. There were sexual encounters between some of the characters throughout the show. Little kids may not understand what is going on and may misinterpret the show. So, the musical is not kid-friendly.

Female Empowerment in Waitress

Waitress was a musical that demonstrated female empowerment. Jenna, stuck in an abusive relationship, was able to rise from her hardships and stand up for herself. In addition, not only female empowerment was shown in the musical itself, but the whole production. The show was able to make Broadway history by having women fill the four top creative spots on the show. The costume designer and musical director for the production were also women. This was rare to see on Broadway.

Other Opinions

Many viewers had an opinion on the musical. Sena Kaper-Dale expressed, “Waitress was an important message for women who feel trapped in a relationship or as if they have no power. Jenna, the main character was in an abusive relationship, and by the end of the musical she manages to get out of the relationship and start her own restaurant and raise her daughter. Jenna demonstrated hope and that abuse should never be tolerated.”