‘Waitress’ about loving yourself and your journey

By Rachel Teseneer
Times-News correspondent

    DURHAM – A musical about following old dreams and loving yourself and your journey will be performed this weekend at the Durham Arts Performing Arts Center (DPAC).
“Waitress” the Musical, with music and lyrics written by popular singer Sara Bareilles, is an upbeat, humorous show with many powerful and heart-touching moments mixed in. A recent interview with Desi Oakley, who plays the main character Jenna, shed some light on the show and her part in it.
Showtimes are 8 p.m. today (Friday, May 4, 2018); 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 5; and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, May 6 at the DPAC, 123 Vivian St., Durham.
“’Waitress’ is about a woman who is more or less stuck. She’s in a loveless marriage, she has forgotten dreams. It’s about her opening here eyes to her reality,” Oakley said of the show.

       Oakley first became involved in theater when she was 8 years old. She had a mentor at a regional theater in Wichita, who she said took her under his wing. “I just kept loving (performing). I do it for the connection with the audience and people on stage. It’s the whole reason. A story’s impact makes us consider our own lives. It takes art to a different level,” Oakley said.
“I’ve learned so much about myself (playing Jenna),” Oakley said. “She’s special, she’s real, and she’s honest.”
For Oakley, the ‘real’ aspect of the show was the most important. According to her, it’s what draws people to the show and makes them really connect. More than once, the concept of ‘real characters’ and ‘real situations’ was brought up. Later Oakley said that this realness was what made playing the part of Jenna especially difficult. “Because I’m playing such a real person, it’s not as easy to hide behind a script. I’m challenged to be present onstage. The only way this show works is if what I’m saying and feeling is real.”
Oakley said that her favorite part of the show is when Jenna goes into her own world.
“She creates pies in her head to reflect what she’s feeling. The lights go down and there’s this great dramatization.
Oakley said that audiences are drawn to see “Waitress” because it has characters to relate to, especially the Jenna character.
“It’s about dreams and self-acceptance. And it’s not just Jenna’s story. You follow every character as they grow.”
Oakley went on to say that she identifies with Jenna’s kindness and drive and said, “The only way I could tell this story is because of what I’ve done to get here. I’ve fought for my dreams my whole life.”
According to Oakley, “’Waitress’ has a palpable energy,” and audiences should expect “to have a blast. Even though there are deep themes, it’s a really fun show.”
Note: This show contains some strong language and adult themes.
    Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com. 

Rachel Teseneer is a sophomore at North Carolina State University and a Teens & 20s writer.

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