The Bechdel Story: How Musicals Written by Women Resonate

I love musicals. They draw you into a new world created by lyrics, and into a stage of dancing. I for one would rather go with people who don’t talk next to me, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. Sometimes you deal with it.

Last night I went to see Waitress. at my local theater.  The South Floridian cast kicked their performance out of the park. It made me tear up near the end, with the optimistic finale and showing a well-earned happy ending.

Waitress, also a comedy film directed by the late Adrienne Shelley, is about a piemaker trying to leave her abusive marriage and dealing with a surprised pregnancy. Jenna knows she wants more out of life than giving all her tips to her husband and concocting new recipes out of rage, frustration, and longing. Even so, Earl has told her she can’t bake well enough to win a competition that would earn twenty thousand dollars for first prize. Her coworkers and boss Joe think otherwise; he keeps telling her to enter the contest and reach out for life, while reading her horoscope.

The musical has many beats that talk about womenhood. Jenna’s coworkers help her take a pregnancy test, and comfort her when it reads positive. Dawn worries about going on her first date because she worries the night will either go well, or horribly. (I found out that Kimiko Glenn played Dawn in the original Broadway cast and my mind was blown). They talk about the morality of having or not having affairs, about if Jenna’s taking to many trips to the doctor, and if she can give the baby the love it needs when she doesn’t want it but she doesn’t want an abortion either.

The cast, as I said, was phenomenal. They also got the sweetest toddler to show up in the last scene, and fixed one of the troubling characters in the film. We all hate Earl, who nevertheless does his job so well as the literal wife-beater that gets a “boo” in the curtain call.

I recommend listening to the soundtrack for if you feel stuck. It makes you think about where you are in life, and what you’re doing. Not everyone can make pies and craft new recipes out of their troubles, but we can figure out if we’re happy or “happy enough”. I hope they share the recipe for that Dark Chocolate one, since it sounded creamy.

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