Thanks to my pal Nell Minow for sending me an early review of a out-of-town tryout of a new musical that's scheduled for Broadway in March, 2016. The show is Waitress, and stars the oft-mentioned here Jessie Mueller, who I began writing about on these pages after seeing her in the Harnick & Bock show She Loves Me at the 150-seat Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Illinois, and who won a Tony Award last year starring as Carole King in the musical, Beautiful. The review, which you can read here, is quite positive. I don't get the sense that the person writing it is a professional critic, but she did a fairly comprehensive job. The score is by singer-songrwriter Sara Bareilles, who has five Grammy nominations.
But I was intrigued about the show for another reason entirely. Waitress is based on the movie of the same name wonderfully written and directed by Adrienne Shelley, who is terrific in a supporting role, as well. It stars Keri Russell, and has a great performance by Andy Griffith in one of his last movies. The film is charming, funny, dramatic and thoughtful, with a lot of whimsy. It's about a lovely young woman, who's about to have a baby, but in an abusive relationship and in a nothing life, and begins to see a way out for her in a relationship with, of all people, her gynecologist and through her dream of opening a pie shop. Because she's brilliant at making pies.
I really liked the movie a great deal. And if you haven't seen it, it's well-worth tracking down. There is, however, a backstory to all this. And it's that as much as I really liked the film, I saw it before I knew anything about that backstory. And it's truly horrible -- about as sad as any real-life Hollywood story of loss I know. Before the movie was released, some guy came into the New York office where Adrienne Shelley was working and shot her to death.
I don't know any more than that. I don't know any more because I haven't had the heart to look into it and find it out. It's just that sad. From what very little I know, it was a total stranger and not a robbery. Just...a killing, for no earthly reason. And as much as I so like this movie, I haven't been able to watch it since. In fact, the most I've been able to watch it is about two minutes. I've tried, jumping in at different points, but I get along about two minutes, and my body just starts to cringe. It was on an airline flight I took not long ago, and I tried again, but I spent most of the flight with my eyes averted. At some point, I'll see it again, I hope. It's worth it.
This is just me, and I've seen the movie already and don't have to again, so, that works into my reaction. If you haven't seen Waitress, it's really quite wonderful. But it's also, just...well, you know. Ack.
Here's the trailer. And no, I didn't watch it all. (Yet. I'll give it a try. I promise.) The film has a terrific cast and also features Nathan Fillion (star of Castle), Jermey Sisto (from Law & Order) and Cheryl Hines (from Curb Your Enthusiasm). And Andy Griffith, in one of his last roles, and he's a gem. The wonderful Adrienne Shelley is the young woman with reddish hair pulled into a pony tail, and wearing glasses with thick, black rims.
For many reasons, I wish the stage musical well.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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