Waiting Around: The Restaurant Musical is deliciously full of the petty horrors of service industry work, and one of the easiest laughs comes when two people sheathed in white plastic bags dotted with “Bourbon Street” sign logos enter and seat themselves at a table. Anyone who’s ever toted a tray or notepad at a local eatery knows what’s coming next: “What’s jambalaya? Are these the real prices? Can we have more bread?”
There’s a basic storyline in which a new waitress (Darcy Malone) joins three veterans who are setting up before a shift. They teach her the ropes, the lingo and how to deflect blame when necessary. In “Fairy Godwaitress,” a guiding spirit (Tracey E. Collins) from a diner intervenes, singing “Gravy” to the tune of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and advising Darcy to “Stand by Her Spam.”
Much of the humor is common to restaurant work everywhere, but the New Orleans touches are fun. The show even starts with a shoutout to audience members from local restaurants, ranging from Port of Call to Besh Steak the night I went. Chris Wecklein delivers a touching rendition of the one serious song in the show — about not getting dragged down by insensitive customers and negotiating what for his character is an ambiguous career stopover. It’s sandwiched between fast-talking banter and a slew of zanier numbers. Much of the show is in the vein of medleys like “Four-Course Nightmare,” featuring a brief rehash of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” from Pirates of Penzance as “Modern Trendy Vegetable,” belted out gleefully by Jason Kirkpatrick while wearing a regal and ridiculous mushroom cap crown. There also are many interludes with archetypal problem customers: snobs, know-it-alls, cheapskates, drunks, finicky eaters, etc.
“Pork Sushi” gets a little off color, but the menu is otherwise full of winners. Like restaurant work, it’s a great ensemble piece, and musical director Harry Mayronne Jr. provides all the music at the piano on stage. The veterans know that the customers must always be made to feel that they are right, but here, the waiters have the last laughs. Reservations are recommended.
Waiting Around: The Restaurant Musical
8 p.m. Fri.-Mon. through Aug. 1
AllWays Lounge, 2240 St. Claude Ave., 218-5778
Tickets $20 Fri.-Sun., $15 Mon.