Food For Thought

Food For Thought

‘Waitress’ celebrates ordinary women



The Tony Award-nominated musical “Waitress” has been lauded for many aspects of the show, chief among them its groundbreaking all-female creative team. The musical debuted on Broadway in 2016 and was brought to life by screenwriter Jessie Nelson (“I Am Sam”); choreographer Lorin Latarro (“Les Dangereuse Liasons,” “Waiting for Godot”); Tony-winning director Diane Paulus (“Hair,” “Pippin,” “Finding Neverland”); and seven-time Grammy-nominee Sara Bareilles, who wrote the original music and lyrics.

“There’s a sensibility and a celebration of the way that women can support each other and the value in that. I think that’s something the women creatives of this show could really hone in on and understand,” reflects actor Maiesha McQueen.

That’s not to say only a team of only women could have made this show what it is, McQueen asserts, but “you definitely felt that there was a very keen understanding of womanhood.”

McQueen portrays Becky in the musical, a fellow waitress at the diner where protagonist Jenna works. The two don’t start off as the best of friends. But their relationship grows because Becky is more direct and honest with Jenna than anyone else as she navigates the sticky situations of her life, McQueen shares.

Dreaming of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage, Jenna is presented with the possibility of a fresh start if she can find the strength to rebuild her life. Variety described the story as “a fairy tale that’s not simply about getting Prince Charming, but also getting its heroine to clean up her own messes, take action and discover her worth.”

Photo courtesy Philicia Endelman
Actor Maiesha McQueen (right) portrays Becky in the Tony Award-nominated musical “Waitress,” based on the 2007 film of the same name. After beginning the tour in an ensemble role and taking a leave of absence to join a regional show, McQueen returned to “Waitress” in the principle role. “Being on tour, theater in general, is just a very strenuous job. It’s a job that you’ve got to love in order to do,” she reflects. “The biggest lesson for me, and what I’ve had to exercise, is just being where you are at at any given time, and allowing the honesty of where you are to affect what you’re doing on stage. Being honest with the people you’re on stage with, asking for what you need, and learning to develop relationships that help to foster that type of honesty.”

“What I love about theater is that it allows you to take what seem like ordinary circumstances and make them extraordinary, because you have the opportunity for two-and-a-half hours to zero in on one person’s story,” McQueen shares. “We go through things all the time, whether it be with a marriage situation or a loved one or conflict with friends or whatever the case may be, but we don’t think those circumstances are necessarily extraordinary enough for a musical.

“And then you go and see ‘Waitress,’ and you see a show about a woman who got herself caught up in some unfortunate circumstances, is in an abusive marriage, and so many people can relate to that theme of domestic abuse,” she continues. “And then the sisterhood between Jenna and Becky and the other waitress, Dawn, and how that’s celebrated in the show, there’s so many things that are celebrated in the musical that just make it extraordinary to me.”

In spite of the female-centric narrative, McQueen says the most rewarding aspect of being part of “Waitress” is offering a wide variety of people the chance to see reflections of themselves — and situations they can relate to — on stage.

“These are just your regular, everyday people, and I feel like much of the country looks like the people in the show,” she reveals. “The script doesn’t get very specific about exactly where the show takes place, and there’s maybe one or two characters that have some sort of financial privilege in the show.”

How many people will go to a restaurant and interact with a waitress prior to entering the theater to see this musical, McQueen muses. It’s something everyone can connect with.

“The title alone lets you know that this is not some musical theater show that’s in a foreign land or a magical place; it just has that down-home, everyday, run-of-the-mill feel to it that you already feel like that’s something you can connect to.”




WHEN — 7 p.m. April 9-11; 1:30 p.m. April 11; 8 p.m. April 12-13; 2 p.m. April 13-14

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $38-$87

INFO — 443-5600,

FYI — Recommended for ages 12 and up.

Categories: Theater