Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: The unapologetically feminist ‘Waitress’ at IU Auditorium

<p>The poster for &quot;Waitress&quot; is seen on Oct. 4, 2021, outside the IU Auditorium. The show made its Bloomington debut on Oct. 5 and closes Oct. 6.</p>

The poster for "Waitress" is seen on Oct. 4, 2021, outside the IU Auditorium. The show made its Bloomington debut on Oct. 5 and closes Oct. 6.

The Broadway musical “Waitress” made its IU debut at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening at the IU Auditorium. As the first musical to mark the start of IU Auditorium’s 2021-22 season, this passion-filled performance did not disappoint. 

“Welcome back” cards placed on top of each seat in the theater aligned with the excitement and anticipation. IU Auditorium Executive Director Doug Booher made a special appearance prior to the performance to introduce the event and welcome back audience members.

Set in a small town off Highway 27 in Indiana, the musical stars Jenna, a waitress and expert pie baker. In a rocky marriage with a baby on the way, Jenna aches for a better life for her and her unborn child.

What ultimately makes “Waitress” such a knockout show is how unapologetically feminist it truly is, especially through its depiction of positive female relationships. 

Jenna and her two coworkers, Becky and Dawn, prove to be a supportive trio wherein each character embodies courage, freedom and support each other in both good and bad times. This positive representation rejects the stereotypical plots usually shown on stage wherein the story revolves around a male protagonist. 

Despite the positive representation of female characters, “Waitress” still showcases the reality for many women as each woman struggles with self-sacrifice because of a man. Yet the entire show represents Jenna’s journey in recognizing her self-worth and self-identity. 

“Waitress” features a little bit of everything: comedy, love, motherhood, friendship, fun, family and – of course – a lot of pie. The set and costume design were both simple enough to not overshadow the brilliant voices of Jisel Soleil Ayon (Jenna), Kennedy Salters (Becky) and Gabriella Marzetta (Dawn). 

The baby blue dresses with white aprons that the waitresses were in for almost the show’s entirety complemented the minimalist backdrop, further highlighting the fragility of the compromising situations that women, like Jenna, often find themselves in. 

This Tony Award-nominated show was made possible by a badass creative team of all women. Grammy winner Sara Bareilles, most known for her pop hits “Brave” and “Love Song,” is to thank for the production’s dangerously catchy original music and lyrics. 

Jessie Nelson, acclaimed screenplay writer of “I Am Sam,” wrote the musical adaptation of Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 film “Waitress.” The musical also features original direction by Tony winner Diane Paulus, who also directed “Hair” and “Finding Neverland.” 

Before the Oct. 6 performance, audience members are invited to participate in a discussion led by Media School professor Dr. Nicole Martins. This pre-show talk will focus on gender disparities on and off the screen, women in media and female representation. You can join from 6:30-7:15 p.m. in room 102 of the Fine Arts Building.   

“Waitress” will be performed again at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at the IU Auditorium. Students can buy tickets directly through the IU Auditorium, starting at  $17.

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