‘Waitress: The Musical’ Movie Review

At the beginning of last year’s holiday season, I was lucky enough to see Waitress: The Musical in theaters. This movie is the big screen version of the Broadway production. It features music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles and was adapted for Broadway (and thus the movie screen) by Jessie Nelson. The musical is based on the 2007 film, also called Waitress, written and directed by Adrienne Shelly.

A small-town waitress named Jenna Hunterson, stifled by a loveless marriage, finds solace and a chance at escape through her gift for creating pies. A nearby baking contest becomes her catalyst, igniting a journey of self-discovery fueled by friendship, unexpected romance, and the courage to pursue a long-forgotten dream.

My impressions of Waitress: The Musical on the big screen 

When I stepped out of the theater, I was on Cloud 9. I loved seeing this musical on the big screen, and it truly awakened a fire in my heart to see more musicals live. Watching a musical live on stage is amazing and a privilege if you catch it with the bright lights of Broadway. But I feel that having the chance to see it in theaters is amazing because it’s a lot more accessible. 

Waitress: The Musical got the chance to be on the big screen in the United States thanks to Bleecker Street. With close-up shots from rehearsals and clips taken from on-stage performances, you can experience Waitress: The Musical in your hometown. 

I love the close-up shots of the actors the most just to see how they portray the characters’ emotions. Not to mention, the music in this musical is phenomenal. A small part of me wishes theater audiences had a chance to see the original Broadway cast with Kimiko Glenn (aka Brook Soso in Orange is the New Black), but that doesn’t take away from the absolute magic of this Broadway Staging.

The studios are pulling a bait and switch with Broadway musical marketing

Waitress: The Musical is a simple, messy, wholesome, bittersweet story about making pie and making hard choices in life. Waitress is part of the weird rise of hidden musicals in cinemas. By hidden, I mean not telling audiences that they’re going to see something with a lot of song and dance. With Waitress, if you’re moderately aware of the conversation around the movie, then you know it’s a musical. That’s not necessarily the case with WonkaMean Girls, and The Color Purple. Because of focus groups, the studios and powers that be are somehow tricking general audiences into seeing a musical. There’s been a lot of talk around this new marketing strategy, and the commentary isn’t positive. 

I’m on the side that believes you should tell people what to expect, and I wholeheartedly disagree with the studio’s decisions. I was a huge theater nerd in high school, and I still am one. I have a deep love for musicals because they have the ability to tell a rich and impactful story through song and dance. It seems unfair not to allow the public to fully understand what they will watch and to generalize their taste in cinema. Musicals have been a pretty popular thing to hate, but I think that some people haven’t found the right musical for them, and that’s a shame.

With a rich and vast history beginning in the 1800s, musical theater is a powerful art form that has transcended film long before the 2000s. I believe there is a musical out there for everyone; you just have to find the right one for you. Not all musicals are like GreaseHairspray, and Cats. Many musicals out there are heartbreaking as well as wholesome. Some musicals lean more towards opera, while some employ musical elements of hip-hop and rap. 

Broadway musicals are not accessible

One key factor in realizing that musicals are for everyone is making them more accessible. There is a plethora of hidden Broadway musicals on YouTube, labeled with coded names so they can be viewed online without being taken down. This piracy is a shame. But imagine how great it would be to have access to the entire catalog of Broadway pro-shots that could be made available to a legally brand-new audience. Studios have that power. Look at what Disney+ did with Hamilton. The streaming debut of the show was a massive success. 

Watching Waitress: The Musical made me realize that anyone can enjoy musicals as long as they have the means to access them. (After all, if you can’t watch them, how are you supposed to know what you’re missing?) There are other benefits to musicals being easily accessible to everyone. If a show is about to close on Broadway, it can be revived if it gains popularity on a streaming service. Although not a musical, this happened when Suits was added on Netflix and became a massive sensation. Just a few days ago, NBC ordered a pilot of the Suits revival. Broadway has always had a classist problem, and with more attention from the general public, we could see things begin to change for the better, with more people from all walks of life getting to experience what I did when I came out of the theater for Waitress: The Musical.  

Waitress: The Musical is now streaming. 

Learn more about Waitress: The Musical by visiting the official Bleecker Street website for the movie. 

What do you think? Do you like to know a film is a musical before you go into the theater? Are you a Broadway fan? Connect with us on X @MoviesWeTexted and let us know.

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