Based on the 2007 film of the same name, distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, stage rights were purchased by producers Barry & Fran Weissler shortly after its release. The world premiere of the musical adaptation followed in 2015, officially opening at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on August 19, and upon receiving wide praise and acclaim, a Broadway transfer was secured for the following spring. The musical officially opened at New York’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre on April 24, 2016, following previews from March 25.
One of the dominant themes in Waitress is female empowerment and the production aptly made Broadway history upon opening by becoming the first ever Broadway musical to have four women in the four top creative team spots, with a book by Jessie Nelson, choreography by Lorin Latarro, direction by Tony Award-winner Diane Paulus and a score by Tony and Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles.
Ms. Bareilles, who had previously received Grammy nominations for “Love Song” and her album “The Blessed Unrest” among others, also released her own studio recording in 2015 entitled “What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress”. Her involvement with the production – her first professional foray into the world of musical theatre – garnered a great deal of media attention, which was only heightened when the singer made her Broadway debut in the musical herself, taking over the lead role of Jenna from original cast member Tony winner Jessie Mueller on March 31, 2017. Packed houses celebrated Bareilles for the entirety of the limited engagement through to June 11, 2017.
Waitress earned a total of four Tony nominations in 2016, including “Best Musical” and “Best Original Score Written for the Theatre” for Bareilles. The Broadway cast recording also earned her a further Grammy nomination in 2017 in the category of “Best Musical Theater Album”.
Waitress’ emotionally driven narrative is complimented by lashings of comic relief through the hilarious antics of Jenna’s workmates – Dawn and Becky – and of Dawn’s pseudo-stalker-ish suitor Ogie, who confesses “I Love You Like A Table”. In addition, Jenna’s pie creations have also become the tasty trademarks of the show along with their imaginative names like the Deep (Sh*t) Dish Blueberry Bacon Pie. And to set the tone, the lobby of the theatre is engulfed with the delicious scent of baking Apple pie, when you enter the building. “Sugar, Butter, Flour…” yes, please!
Waitress is the feel-good show that offers the world a scrumptious, musical slice of Americana to satisfy your theatrical appetites, so head on down to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre and find out for yourselves “What’s Inside”…
(Header photo by Matthew Murphy / Production photos by Jeremy Daniel & Joan Marcus)