‘Waitress’ plays through Sunday at the Winspear. (Courtesy photo by Jeremy Daniel)

Stage Notes is a weekly aggregate post about theater, classical music and stage news, events, reviews and other pertinent information.

REVIEW: Waitress is baked into a beautiful pie

ATTPAC’s Broadway Series opened Waitress on Tuesday at the Winspear Opera House to a nearly packed house. The energy was buzzing throughout the venue for this production with music by Sara Bareilles. For opening night, the cast met that energy with a dynamic show that hit on all the emotions.

Waitress centers on Jenna (Jisel Soleil Ayon) who’s superpower is creating and baking incredible and unique pies. They are also her way of handling life. She works alongside the obsessive-compulsive Dawn (Gabriella Marzetta) and the strong-willed Becky (Dominique Kent) who are also her support system. They deal with their boss Cal’s (Jake Mills) demanding attitude, the picky but wise older customer Joe (Michael R. Douglass) and Jenna’s surprise pregnancy. Jenna’s home life isn’t so good with her abusive, self-centered husband Earl (Shawn W. Smith), but she connects with her gynecologist, Dr. Pomatter (David Socolar), a new doctor who is the exact opposite of her husband.

The show delighted on mostly every level Tuesday night. If folks are looking for a classic rom-com, forget the movies and find it in Waitress. Sara Bareilles songs were the highlight with their catchy melodies and emotional depth. The opening number “Opening Up” delivered the peppy energy that was to follow throughout the show. Ayon delivered big as the story’s central character. Ayon kept unpacking Jenna’s character with humor and sympathy and determination. Of the most entertaining performances was Marzetta and Brian Lundy who played Dawn’s new beau Ogie. The nerdy couple with an affection for Revolutionary War reenactments were stealing scenes left and right much to the audience’s delight. Socolar emitted good-guy energy with his lanky physical comedy and beautiful singing voice.

Waitress was feel-good in all the right places. The humor was smart and edgy and sustained the show alongside the music. More dramatic moments were staged with delicacy to really drive home the songs and dialogue. Waitress certainly took the audience on a journey that resolved with the utmost satisfaction.

Undermain Theatre announces new season
For its 39th season, Undermain Theatre is returning to a full season of professional live performances with a diverse season of productions. The season will feature a co-production with Bishop Arts Theatre Center, a world premiere commissioned for the theater, a dramatic regional premiere and more. Subscriptions can be purchased here.

The  2022/23 season features the following (from Undermain):

Oct. 20-Nov. 6: Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury.  This Pulitzer prize winning drama will be a co-production with the revered Bishop Arts Theatre Center, performed at its home stage.Nov. 10-27: Feeding on Light by Lenora Champagne. This play was inspired and commissioned by Undermain Theatre’s Founding Artistic Director, Katherine Owens.

April 12-30: He’s Born, He’s Borne by David Rabe. The long-awaited workshop by an icon of American theater will finally come to the Undermain Theatre stage.

June 1-17: The Way She Spoke by Isaac Gómez. We close the season with this play of searing passion and timely urgency concerning a crisis of humanity in Juárez, Mexico.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra kicks off parks series May 30

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra will kick off its Symphony in the City Parks Concert series with fireworks at its annual Memorial Day concert at Flag Pole Hill. The outdoor concerts are family-friendly and free to attend. Assistant Conductor Maurice Cohn will lead the DSO in programs featuring light classics, patriotic tunes and other popular music.

The series schedule includes the following:

May 30 at Flag Pole Hill Flag Pole Hill, 8:15 pm
June 3 at Kidd Springs, 8:15 pm
June 8 at Campbell Green Park
June 9 at Paul Quinn College, 8:15 pm

MainStage’s Enchanted April offers a splendid escape

Samantha Johnson, left, and Kim Winnubst in MainStage’s ‘Enchanted April.’ (Courtesy photo by Kris Ikejiri)

Over in Irving, MainStage is continuing its 50th anniversary season with the very lovely production of Matthew Barber’s Enchanted April. The British period piece follows four women  from a rainy London to a flowery scented villa in Italy. The show is based on the 1922 novel by Elizabeth von Armin. A film version of the story was released in 1991.

Director Rose Anne Holman directed this production, which opened last Friday, with a charming, delightful touch. The cast equally delivered performances to match. Additionally, TJ Firneno’s set appropriately set the tonal narrative opening the show with the dark, doldrums of rainy London simply with a black backdrop and empty white frames. Firneno then shifted the show entirely to an awakened setting outdoors of the Italian villa.

The story begins with Lotty Wilton (Samantha Johnson) approaching Rose Arnott (Kim Winnubst) in 1920s London. Both come off as bleak as the rain and both have an interest in an ad for a villa rental in Italy. As the two become friends and set out their plans, they are also dealing with their husbands in a passionless marriage. Lotty’s husband Mellersh (Walt Threlkeld) is more concerned about his move upward in career and networking the right people. Rose’s Frederick (Stephen Miller) has built an ego stemming from his published poetry and book tours. The two women connect with the younger flapper Lady Caroline (Caitlin Martelle) and the conservative older Mrs. Graves (Mary-Margaret Pyeatt) who will all rent the villa for the month. Each character discovers more about themselves as they begin to build new friendships.

Johnson and Winnubst led the show with contrasting performances that balanced nicely. Johnson brought a certain hope to Lotty that made you want to root for her. Winnubst began Rose a drearier outlook that made her blossoming in the second act a wonderful sight. As Lady Caroline, Martelle brought a provocative charm to her character that hid underlying pain. Pyeatt’s performance was stoic and icy that melted away under the Tuscan sun. Each moved their characters forward with an impressive stripping away of each of her character’s burdens. As the housekeeper Costanza, Sheila D. Rose seemed to enjoy her comedic role all served in Italian as perhaps the most-fulfilled of the women in the story. As a whole, these actors made these characters feel so relatable and sympathetic and truly alive onstage.

The men fared just as well. Threlkeld was aloof in the first act as the pants-wearer but he knew how to make Mellersh respond to Lotty’s newfound empowerment with a  confused buffoonery which even served up some beefy bare ass shots. Miller displayed the ego his character needed throughout the show but of the characters, Frederick was perhaps the hardest to connect with, but the story itself doesn’t do as much with him and Miller certainly gave a rich performance despite the text. David Helms played the villa owner Antony Wilding who punctuated the second act as the women made themselves at home. Antony’s undertones with Rose were apparent and Helms’ performance was endearing throughout.

Truly, this cast was magical together and in the staged setting of the Italian villa, MainStage’s Enchanted April was a marvelous experience.

Opening this week:

All About Bette: An Interlude with Bette Davis by Morgana Shaw, today-June 30 at Four Day Weekend Theater. 

Allen Contemporary Theatre: Clue, Friday-May 29.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra: Luisi Conducts Beethoven 9, today-Sunday.

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra: Holst’s Planets: Bach, Tomasi, and Holst, Friday-Sunday at Bass Hall.

The Firehouse Theatre: Big Fish, today-May 29.

Garland Symphony Orchestra: Mozart con Amore, 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Granville Arts Center.

MainStage222: POPT, today-May 22 in the Black Box Theater.

DMA Arts & Letters Live: Annalee Newitz, 7:30 p.m. May 19 at the Horchow Auditorium.

Sammons Cabaret: Audra Scott and Keron Jackson, 8 p.m. May 19 in Meadows Hall.

On stage now:

Art Centre Theatre: Blithe Spirit, through May 15.

ATTPAC Broadway Series: Waitress, through Sunday at the Winspear Opera House.

Broadway Dallas: Mean Girls, through Sunday at the Music Hall at Fair Park.

Fair Assembly: Macbeth, through Sunday at Arts Mission Oak Cliff.

Garland Civic Theater: Wait Until Dark, through Sunday at Granville Arts Center.

Lyric Stage: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, through Sunday at the Majestic Theatre.

Theatre Arlington: The Piano Lesson, through Sunday.

MainStage Irving-Las Colinas: Enchanted April, through May 21 in the Dupree Theater at the Irving Arts Center.

— Rich Lopez