Waitress (Adelphi Theatre) JohnnyFox March 8, 2019 Musicals, Reviews, Theatre ‘Check, please!’ says guest reviewer Ms. Max Black. Waitress the 2007 movie was a surprise hit. Dark with the shadow of Jeremy Sisto’s brooding thug, warm with the glow of Nathan Fillion’s white-coated charm, alert with a splendid believable central performance from Keri Russell and sassy sidekick Cheryl Hines. Waitress the Musical is none of these things. It feels assembled, as if from a kit. The lead character has been sugared beyond all recognition, and Katherine McPhee’s vocally bold performance doesn’t draw you to her. The men are ciphers or cartoons, and the splendid Dreamgirls diva Marisha Wallace is unusually restrained, and cursed with a terrible running gag about why one of her breasts hangs lower than the other. They pipe the scent of baked pies into the theatre, but with this motif, there’s a whiff of something much nastier. As an anthem to feminist determinism Waitress doesn’t pass any kind of Bechdel test. For sure our heroine Jenna deserts her brutish husband, but only to shag her professionally inappropriate gynaecologist, and then junks him for single motherhood – just as a kindly older gent leaves her the money to open her own cafe. She’s really the creepiest pie shop proprietor since Mrs Lovett. Talking of Bechdel tests, some reviewers praised the ‘all-female creative team’ as though we’d hit some some sort of milestone appropriate to this week’s International Women’s Day, conveniently overlooking the fact that the set, lighting, wigs, make-up and sound were all designed by men. Do the Sarah Bareilles songs save it? Maybe, the on-stage band led by Katherine Woolley is lively with the sort of twangling you’d pick up driving Route 66 and tuning in and out of country music stations. Mary Chapin Carpenter on anti-depressants, perhaps. The sound balance is a mess, but ‘She Used to be Mine’ is undeniably the standout song. Like a lot of made-from-a-movie musicals, this is aimed firmly at the prosecco-chugging girls’ night out crowd. For anyone else looking for a well-crafted musical with a strong female lead, there’s Company. booking until October 19.