“My name is Chris and I’m your server.” That’s server, not waiter, but the profession remains the same, as we see in Waiting Around: The Restaurant Musical, a comic cabaret by Ricky Graham (book and lyrics) and Harry Mayronne (music), on the boards Monday nights at the AllWays Lounge and Theatre. It’s a 10th anniversary reprise of a show originally called The Black and White Blues.
Jason Kirkpatrick, Darcy Malone, Tracey E. Collins and Chris Wecklein are the four servers in the show, and the obvious enjoyment they take in performing together increases our enjoyment watching them work through 10 light-hearted song and dance numbers. These are woven together with imaginative sketches, like the appearance of the Fairy God Waitress, a waiter’s mother in robe and curlers and the entire cast as different foods. These interludes give costume designer Cecile Casey Covert a chance to show her stuff, since the rest of the show is restricted to black and white restaurant staff uniforms. James Jennings’ set is a dining room with a chandelier and wainscoting. Mayronne sits at an upright piano off to one side.
There’s not much plot. One waiter hopes to make it as an actor and another wants to open her own restaurant. Three servers feel bogged down, underpaid and overworked, but they perk up when a new waitress (Malone) needs to learn the ropes.
First, she needs to learn waiter lingo: a deuce, a double, to “eighty-six” something, to get stiffed (not receive a tip) and to tip-out (share tips). As the cabaret continues, she gains experience. Finally, she “can steer a bunch of drag queens to the lady’s room. No easy task!”
Often, the cast plays straight to the audience — a technique that keeps Waiting firmly rooted in cabaret tradition. This approach extends to the over-the-top costumes worn by the players when they enter as other characters.
Most of the songs are original, but there are a few satiric nods to classics. Mr. Vegetable sings “I am the very model of a modern trendy vegetable” to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Modern Major-General’s song from The Pirates of Penzance. And the country-western “Stand by Your Man” turns into “Stand by Your Spam.”
The one semi-serious moment in the show turns on the double meaning of “waiting” in a song that croons: “What I’m waiting for is nowhere to be found/ and in the meantime, I’m just waiting around.”
Amanda Zirkenbach’s direction is zesty and Su Gonzcy’s lighting spot on. The show runs on Monday nights, because that’s a night many service industry workers have off.
Thru. Aug. 27
Waiting Around: The Restaurant Musical
8 p.m. Monday
AllWays Lounge and Theatre, 2240 St. Claude Ave., 218-5778