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Opening Up (Again): Waitress UK Tour 1st Night Recap

One of the biggest casualties of the pandemic was the West End production of Waitress. Originally due to close at the Adelphi Theatre in July 2020, the show found itself closing its doors 4 months early as all theatres shut in March 2020. Even more tragically, the day it closed was the very day leading lady Lucie Jones was due to reprise her role as Jenna after a two month absence from the role for the shows writer Sara Bareilles to play a limited run. The cast were understandably heartbroken at not only having their beautiful pie show taken away from them early but also never being able to get the closure they deserved.


In a much needed bit of positivity, the show is back on the road for a mammoth UK tour over this year and next. Several cast members from the West End run have returned to the role including Lucie Jones, picking up right where they left off.



So much has changed since the show last performed in London and the show has changed too. This post will talk about what happened on the first night, the changes the show has made and pictures of the curtain call including Lucies speech.


The first stop on the UK tour was, rather fittingly, in London - reopening the New Wimbledon Theatre which had remained closed for nearly 18 months.



The staff inside went all out too, dressing up as waitresses as they used to do in the Adelphi Theatre:



No new merchandise has been designed for the tour - even merchandise from the West End run with "London" on (such as the magnet) have been repurposed for the first run on the tour:




The new programme is £5 and is just for New Wimbledon Theatre. There may well be a brochure for the tour after production photos come out.


The iconic pie curtain is the first thing you'll always see when you enter the theatre for Waitress and the tour is no exception. Behold it in all its glory:


As this is a tour production, the set is a bit different from the West End production. The diner signs are still present thankfully but Jennas apartment is more sparse, there are no more spinning pie stands at either side of the stage - and the bathroom now appears from the other side (That really threw me off). Nothing is lost from this though and other than a few noticeable differences, the show is pretty identical to the West End version.


There have been some changes made to the show both for the tour and on Broadway, where Waitress re-opened earlier this week. A tribute to original Broadway cast member Nick Cordero who sadly passed away last year from Covid is represented with the wedding pie being referred to as "a big ol' slice of Live your life pie" in reference to his song 'Live Your Life'. While the menu board on Broadway also has this pie added to it, this has not been done for the tour production yet.


Dawn no longer says "enthusiastically American" when reading out her dating profile. This has now been replaced with "fervently organised". As in Broadway, she now is holding an American pride flag in the 'Bad Idea (Reprise)' scene in Act 2 which actress Evelyn Hoskins enthusiastically waved around to huge applause.


One change for the tour production from the West End run is "somewhere they could use a little pie shop like Paris... or Liverpool" - Liverpool is now replaced with, presumably, the name of the town they are in. Tonight was "Paris... or Wimbledon" with Wimbledon pronounced hilariously wrong - expect that at all the other venues.


So let's talk about the cast.


Lucie Jones was sensational as Jenna. I have seen her row into this role from her unannounced debut performance to her actual official debut to this - and honestly I have never seen her better than she was tonight. The choices she made on 'What Baking Can Do', the incredible 'She Used To Be Mine' which she received a well-deserved midshow standing ovation for and the general feel like she understands the character more after being taken away from her for 606 days. What a performer she is!


Also returning to the show are Sandra Marvin as Becky and Evenlyn Hoskins as Dawn - both incredible in the roles, with Tamlyn Henderson returning as Jenna's loathsome husband Earl.


The new additions to the cast are mostly fantastic. George Crawford is a hilarious Ogie, bringing the house down on 'Never Ever Getting Rid Of Me', Christopher D. Hunt is a decent Cal and Michael Starke is a great Joe. Making allowances for the it being the first night, Matt Willis was slightly wooden as Dr Pomatter. Hopefully he grows more confident in the role and makes it his own as following in the footsteps of David Hunter and Gavin Creel isn't easy, but his performance tonight did give me flashbacks of Ashley Roberts as Dawn - and that's something nobody EVER wants to remember.


Waitress is known for its on stage mishaps and tonight had an absolute classic. Matt Willis dropped his pie on the floor, picked it up and blew on it which left Lucie Jones in hysterics. When he prompted her with her next line, she really was lost in the moment and said "Huh? OH" before getting on the show. The joys of live theatre.


Here are some pictures of the cast from tonights curtain call:








You really can tell from the joy on their faces how much this performance and this show meant to them all.


Lucie Jones ended the night with a speech welcoming the audience back to Waitress. It wouldn't be Lucie without a joke she instantly regretted but this is why we love her. Watch her speech in full below:



Waitress is one of my favourite musicals. From seeing it on Broadway to going repeatedly in the West End, I have missed it an incredible amount. Sometimes tour productions struggle to match the magic present on a big West End stage but that was definitely not a problem tonight. Stunning performances all round, it is so good to have this wonderful show back on the stage in this country to give us all a much needed slice of happiness.


Waitress continues its tour around the UK over the next year. For all dates and tickets, head to https://www.waitressthemusical.co.uk/

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