Just last month producers Barry and Fran Weissler announced that Waitress will return to the Ethel Barrymore Theater for a limited engagement, from September to January.
Sara Bareilles, the show’s composer, will star in the lead role of Jenna Hunterson from September 2 through October 17. “I couldn’t miss the opportunity to be there when Broadway welcomes audiences back into theaters that have been sitting dark for over a year,” shared Bareilles in a statement.
Based on Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 film of the same title, Waitress tells the story of Jenna, an expert pie maker who works at Joe’s Pie Diner. She has a special talent for creating all their custom pies. Their names are as scrumptious as the pies themselves with names like, “Sweet Victory Pie" or "My Husband’s a Jerk Chicken Pot Pie.” As one character sings, “If pies were books yours would be Shakespeare's letters.”
But pies and her beloved co-workers at Joe’s Pie Diner are Jenna's only joy. Stuck in a loveless and brutal marriage with an abusive and controlling husband, Jenna aches to find the courage to live life on her own terms. The show is all about the power of friendship and what it takes to believe in yourself and follow your dreams.
When Bareilles was offered the chance to write the music and lyrics for Waitress, she leapt at the opportunity. “In a way it’s actually been a really interesting homecoming for me,” said the Eureka, California native. Growing up she loved performing in community theater and listening to musicals. Bareilles felt a deep connection with that medium. “Musical Theater is near and dear to my heart,” says Bareilles who remembers seeing Hair and the impact that had on her. “It felt like they were speaking directly to me. But I also felt that was experiencing something that was larger than life.”
Waitress is the first Broadway musical in history to have four women in the four top creative team spots, with a book by Jessie Nelson, music and lyrics by Grammy Winner and Tony and Emmy-nominated Sara Bareilles, choreography by Lorin Latarro and direction by Tony Award-winner Diane Paulus.
Now Bareilles gets to bring that magic she felt to others. “It is a gift to get to revisit the beautiful story of Waitress, centered around hope, resilience, and the support of our chosen family,” added singer/songwriter and performer. “It's so special to be able to celebrate those same qualities at this moment in time within our theater family. Like so many people all over the world, this community has endured great loss and tremendous hardship, and we are all changed.”
After it debuted in 2016, Waitress became one of the longest-running shows in recent Broadway history, playing more than 1500 performances at The Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The musical recouped its production investment in less than 10 months.
As Bareilles shared she is powerfully motivated by all that happened and what she learned in the past year. She hopes to “make something even more beautiful and more intentional.” As she explained. “Broadway is grit and grace, magic and mayhem, and I can’t wait to feel the electricity that pulses through all of us as the curtains rise once again.”
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