Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Waitress on Broadway

Now that I got that last post out of my system, time for something lighter a little less charged.  

As I mentioned in my last post, my sister and her fianc√© now live in New York City.  I went down a couple weeks ago to hang with them, check out their awesome new place, and see a couple shows.  We all saw the Birdland Big Band, which was OUTSTANDING and something I'd recommend even to the non-jazzers that read this.  Earlier in the afternoon, however, I visited the TKTS booth and wound up scoring an orchestra seat to Waitress.  I'm really, really glad I did.  

I walked into the theatre not knowing much about the show, aside from some friends having raved about it and knowing that I have enjoyed the few Sara Bareilles songs I had heard (from the show, and otherwise).  I did not expect to be emotionally sucker-punched in the gut, and I certainly didn't expect to have to stand on the side of Broadway for about ten minutes just to mentally center myself.  

The show tackles several topics, ranging from pregnancy to adultery to judgment to stereotypes to, ultimately, happiness and how far one can and should go to reach it.  It does so with a very good modern piano-driven rock score, a very strong cast, convincing staging, and a tight on-stage pit band, among other elements.  None of those individual elements were the absolute best I've seen (it'll be a while before The Last Five Years is unseated as my favorite score), but this show is a quintessential example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.  The "whole" of the show absolutely blew me away.  How and why?  It made me think, it made me question, and it made me feel.  And those things are EXACTLY what should happen when someone is exposed to (or dare I say, assaulted) by quality art.  

Among the thoughts that ran through my head as a result of this show:

1.  Is lying OK?

2.  Is cheating OK?

3.  Even if cheating is not OK, is it possible to understand WHY someone might do so?

4.  Can a character still be rooted for despite their imperfections or flaws?

5.  Is "happy enough" truly "happy enough"?  Is "happy enough" even a thing?  Could the answer to that question be different for different people in different situation?

6.  How hard is it to have your opinion of someone changed?  

7.  Can you grow to like, or even love, someone with whom you get off on the wrong foot when you first meet?  

Any of those questions could be argued, and convincing so, any number of ways (except #2, IMHO).  I say that even about the first and third questions, and I would not have said that if not for this show and a couple others I've seen.  Ahh, the power of musical theatre.  

I would LOVE to discuss any or all of the above questions with anyone who'd like to do so, either within or outside the context of Waitress.  However, I want to share a few take-aways before wrapping this up.  

1.  I turned thirty last year, and I've been (and still am) so, so lucky to have had the people and experiences in my life that I've had and still have.  And that's the understatement of the century.  All of that said, I still sometimes think "Holy shit, I'm a third of the way through my life.  To what extent do the things I'm doing and the choices I'm making rev me up and move me toward meeting all of my goals and realizing my potential (both individually and in the bigger picture), and to what extent do they hold me back?"

2.  The protagonist (Jenna) writes a figurative letter to her unborn baby at one point in the show.  I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen the show, but I give Jenna's character so much credit for saying what she says (not easy or widely accepted thoughts, mind you) with such honesty and candor.  

3.  This show reaffirmed my long-time belief against "settling" in any facet of life, because (a) it rarely works and (b) life's too short to spend it wondering if the grass is greener on the other side.  Disclaimer:  I firmly believe that there is a huge difference between settling, and modifying one's choices due to an outside need (caring for a family member or friend comes to mind, but there are other examples).  The latter is sometimes necessary, and can turn out to be rewarding in its own way.  

That it for now.  Like I said earlier, just drop me a line if you want to discuss or debate any of the above, or nerd out about the show itself.  And if you haven't seen the show, do yourself a favor, and go see it.  And leave yourself some time after the final curtain to collect your thoughts.  You'll need it.  

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