2017 Theater – Great Comet, Puffs, On Your Feet, Waitress

Adina here, your friendly neighborhood theater fan! I’m back again with more theater stories! You can check out my BroadwayCon article or everything I did in 2016.

Other than BroadwayCon, January (into early February, but some shows still gave out January Playbills, so it counts) brought me to four shows: Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 (sometimes just known as The Great Comet); Puffs; On Your Feet; and Waitress.

First up was Great Comet, which I’d bought tickets for not long after the box office opened last summer. Les Mis was still playing at the Imperial then, but they were selling advance tickets for Comet. Well, what a spectacle this was! They did major renovations on the theater. There wasn’t one proscenium stage; instead, the “staging area” was all over, with staircases and walkways all the way up to the mezzanine and balcony. The cast was phenomenal, including Josh Groban, who was the titular Pierre. One standout in particular was Lucas Steele, who plays Anatole, the playboy. He, and Denee Benton, the titular Natasha, were incredible. The plot is taken from a bit of Tolstoy’s War and Peace and takes place in 19th century Russia.

Panorama of The Great Comet stage

During BroadwayCon, I decided against attending some of the evening programming in favor of the 9:30 Saturday night showing of Puffs, which is a hilarious off-Broadway parody of Harry Potter. The tagline is “Potter changed the World of Wizards forever. The Puffs were also there.” It’s about 100 minutes of non-stop action and hilarity. Takes place over the entire 7 years of the Harry Potter story we all know, shown through the eyes of the Hufflepuffs. It was in a small theater, very intimate, and what a fun show. There are several actors blatantly playing different characters and it’s a wild ride. Highly recommended to any Potter fans.

“We are not a threat. Please be our friend.”

The following weekend, it was into the Marriott Marquis to visit their in-house theater for the story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan: On Your Feet. This is a bioplay, telling the story of Gloria and Emilio and their musical journey. I didn’t know that many of the songs beforehand, but it is all of their hits. The actors, especially the ones playing Gloria and Emilio, were fantastic. The first act closed with “Conga” and the dancers came down off the stage to dance with the audience members in the aisle! How I wish we were sitting in the orchestra this time, instead of the mezzanine.

The company of On Your Feet
The company of On Your Feet

Sunday was time for Waitress, which we tried to get to before Jessie Mueller left at the end of March. With discount tickets and other plans, this was the best time to go. Good news is we got in before she officially left. Bad news is, Stephanie Torns, the understudy was on that day. Stephanie was wonderful as Jenna, though, so it wasn’t disappointing at all. I’d also seen her perform “Bad Idea” when Waitress was at Broadway in Bryant Park.

Stephanie Torn as Jenna performing at Broadway in Bryant Park
Stephanie Torn as Jenna performing at Broadway in Bryant Park

Bonus was Dakin Matthews, playing the diner’s owner Joe (played by Andy Griffith in the movie). Matthews had played Headmaster Charleston in Gilmore Girls, including the revival! It was fun to see him. I had previously seen him years ago at a Shakespeare in the Park production of All’s Well That Ends Well so I knew he had been around NY theatre.  Another fun thing was that as part of the concession stand, we could actually get little mini pies in mason jars! I enjoyed this show a lot and I would love to see it again. Right now, Sara Bareilles (singer/songwriter and music & lyrics for Waitress) is starring as Jenna, but tickets are pricey, so I may not catch her in it. Also in Waitress now, starring as Earl, Jenna’s good-for-nothing husband? Will Swenson, formerly Berger in Hair and Javert in the recent revival of Les Mis. Hair is one of my favorites, possibly second only to Newsies. I was a huge fan of the 2009 revival and it’s still in regular rotation on my playlist. Here’s hoping I see Waitress again as well as Swenson in something soon!

Will Swenson (right) with Gavin Creel in Hair.
Will Swenson (right) with Gavin Creel in Hair.

Next time, join me for my “High Adventure” of seeing Aladdin as well as In Transit. Also in February? Multiple viewings of the filmed stage production of my fave Newsies.


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