The Cadillac Palace Theatre is turning into Chicago’s premier destination for musicals that once featured local actress-turned-Broadway superstar Jessie Mueller. Last December, the venue hosted a national tour of Beautiful—The Carole King Musical, and it’s currently showing Waitress, an adaptation of the late Adrienne Shelly’s beloved 2007 indie film. Mueller headlined both musicals on Broadway, but each production—Waitress especially—still has much to offer in her absence. And the kickass songbooks help: Beautiful had Carole King and Waitress has Sara Bareilles.
As channeled through a live onstage band, Bareilles’s rowdy, casually frank ballads are the perfect match for musical theatre. When listening to her melodies, it’s hard not to feel like Bareilles is your best friend—the kind who will tell you to your face that the guy you’re dating is an asshole. Not one song into Waitress and you start to wonder: Why has it taken Bareilles this long to write a musical? And when is she penning another?
As far as adaptations go, Waitress remains faithful to its cinematic source material, which is slightly ironic considering that the story is rife with infidelity. The plot follows Jenna (Desi Oakley), a small-town woman whose only escape from her loveless, abusive marriage is her passion for baking pies. Jenna works at a local diner with her two friends, fellow waitresses Becky (Charity Angél Dawson) and Dawn (Lenne Klingaman), where her baking talents are put to delicious use.