2016 Broadway poster
by Adrienne Shelly
|Premiere||August 19, 2015American Repertory Theater, Cambridge:|
|Productions||2015 Cambridge |
2017 U.S. Tour
2019 West End
Waitress is a musical with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles and a book by Jessie Nelson. The musical is based on the 2007 film of the same name, written by Adrienne Shelly. It tells the story of Jenna Hunterson, a waitress in an abusive relationship with her husband Earl. When Jenna unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she begins an affair with her gynecologist, Dr. Jim Pomatter. Looking for ways out, she sees a pie contest and its grand prize as her chance.
Stage rights to the film were purchased in 2007, while the musical's creative team was assembled by 2013. The original production of Waitress premiered at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge in August 2015, with direction by Diane Paulus and choreography by Chase Brock, and starring Jessie Mueller, Drew Gehling, and Joe Tippett as Jenna, Jim, and Earl, respectively. It made its Broadway debut at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in April 2016. A U.S. national tour began on October 20, 2017. In 2019, Waitress opened at the Adelphi Theatre in London's West End.
- 1 Background
- 2 Productions
- 3 Synopsis
- 4 Music
- 5 Casts
- 6 Critical response
- 7 Awards and nominations
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The musical is based on the 2007 indie film Waitress. The film was produced on a budget of just $1.5 million, earning over $23 million in global box office receipts. The film starred Keri Russell, and was written and directed by Adrienne Shelly. The film follows Jenna, a waitress and pie chef living in the American South, who unexpectedly becomes pregnant and feels trapped in an unhappy marriage. Looking for a way out, she sees a pie contest and its grand prize as her chance.
Following the 2013 Tony Awards, producers Barry and Fran Weissler announced that a musical version of the film was in the works, with Paula Vogel writing the book, Sara Bareilles writing the music and lyrics, and direction by Diane Paulus. The Weisslers purchased the stage rights to the film shortly after its release in 2007. Paula Vogel withdrew from the project in January 2014. On December 11, 2014, the musical was officially confirmed, and it was announced that the show would receive its world premiere at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as part of their 2015–2016 season, with Jessie Nelson now writing the book. A workshop was held the same month in New York City, with Jessie Mueller, Keala Settle, Christopher Fitzgerald, Bryce Pinkham and Andy Karl, among others, taking part. Nelson, with the blessing of the late Adrienne Shelly's husband, used some of Shelly's unfinished scripts to help bring "her voice" to the project.
Waitress began previews at the American Repertory Theater on August 2, 2015, before the official opening on August 19, 2015, for a limited run to September 27, 2015. Tickets for the world premiere production sold out. The show has a book by Jessie Nelson, with direction by Diane Paulus, choreography by Chase Brock, set design by Scott Pask, costume design by Suttirat Anne Larlarb, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, musical direction by Nadia DiGiallonardo, and sound by Jonathan Deans. The cast featured Jessie Mueller as Jenna, Drew Gehling as Jim, Joe Tippett as Earl, Jeanna de Waal as Dawn, Keala Settle as Becky, Dakin Matthews as Joe, Jeremy Morse as Ogie, and Eric Anderson as Cal.
During Cambridge previews, it was announced that the production would transfer to Broadway in March 2016. Broadway previews began on March 25, 2016 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, with the official opening slated for April 24 – just in time for the April 28 Tony Award cut-off date. Tickets went on sale on February 15. Changes to the creative team for the Broadway run included Lorin Latarro replacing Chase Brock as choreographer and Christopher Akerlind replacing Kenneth Posner as lighting designer. For the Broadway production, elements of the book were rewritten, new choreography developed, and a new song written by Bareilles. Manhattan baker Stacy Donnelly and small business owner Dawn Mayo of Everythingdawn Bakery Candles & Treats were hired for the project. Donnelly was hired to ensure that the baking scenes were realistic. She taught the cast how to work and roll pie dough, as the role of Jenna required Mueller to crack eggs, sift flour and roll out dough on stage. Mayo was hired to create all of the realistic prop pies used throughout the show.
To help immerse audiences, real pies are warming as they enter the theater, creating the aroma of a pie shop; slices of pie are for sale. Cast changes included Nick Cordero taking over the role of Earl, Kimiko Glenn as Dawn, and Christopher Fitzgerald, who took part in the New York workshop, as Ogie. During previews, the production set a new record for a single performance at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, taking in $145,532. The production had required an initial investment of $12 million. During a technical halt at a preview performance, composer and lyricist Sara Bareilles performed two songs, including "Down at the Diner", previously cut from the production.
Waitress made history on Broadway with the four top creative spots in a show being filled by women (Sara Bareilles, Jessie Nelson, Lorin Latarro, and Diane Paulus). In addition, the costume designer and musical director were women. Sara Bareilles said she was proud to be part of an all-female team: "It's really fun to be an example of the way it can look. We're a bunch of women who are deeply committed to finding a way to build a unified vision." Only the 1978 Broadway musical Runaways had a similar history, with book, music, lyrics, choreography and direction all by Elizabeth Swados.
U.S. National Tour (2017–present)
The first international production, produced by Atlantis Theatrical, debuted in November 2018 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium featuring Joanna Ampil as Jenna.
West End (2019)
The production debuted in London's West End on February 8, 2019 (previews) at the Adelphi Theatre and featured Katharine McPhee as Jenna, who had previously played the role on Broadway, and Jack McBrayer as Ogie.
Jenna is a waitress and expert pie baker at Joe's Diner in the American South who imagines tough situations as pie ingredients (“What's Inside”). She begins another day at the diner with her boss Cal and waitresses Becky and Dawn (“Opening Up”). Regretting a drunken night with her unloving husband Earl, Jenna is dismayed by her positive pregnancy test (“The Negative”). Earl appears and suggests he may make Jenna quit and give up her passion for baking. She decides not to tell him about the pregnancy and recalls her late mother, who also found solace from an unhappy marriage in baking (“What Baking Can Do”).
At her OB/GYN’s office, Jenna is taunted by other pregnant women (“Club Knocked Up”) and meets Dr. Jim Pomatter. Jenna explains she does not want her baby, and leaves Dr. Pomatter with a pie, which he reluctantly tastes and loves ("Pomatter Pie").
Word of Jenna's pregnancy reaches Joe, the diner’s curmudgeonly owner, who suggests she enter a local pie-baking contest with a large reward. Dawn, who has turned to online dating, accepts a blind date for the following night (“When He Sees Me”).
Jenna runs into Dr. Pomatter at the bus stop. She tells him about her unhappy marriage, and he compliments her pie and her resilience (“It Only Takes a Taste”). Jenna arrives home to learn Earl has been fired. He berates her, and his anger almost turns physical until she confesses she is pregnant. He makes her promise not to love the baby more than him (“You Will Still Be Mine”). Jenna tells Dawn and Becky her plan to enter the pie contest and use the winnings to leave Earl for a new life with the baby. The three waitresses see their dreams of a better life within reach (“A Soft Place to Land”).
Dawn’s date Ogie visits the diner and insists he get to know Dawn better (“Never Ever Getting Rid Of Me”). Dawn and Ogie realize they both enjoy American Revolution reenactments and how much they have in common. Jenna makes an appointment with Dr. Pomatter, where she impulsively kisses him. Though both married, they decide to escape their frustrating lives, and have sex in his office (“Bad Idea”).
After her tryst, Jenna discovers Becky and Cal having sex at the diner. The married Becky is unashamed of giving in to passion (“I Didn't Plan It”). Jenna and Dr. Pomatter continue their affair, as do Becky and Cal, and Dawn and Ogie (“Bad Idea (Reprise)”). Jenna wonders if their affair is a mistake, but Dr. Pomatter reassures her (“You Matter To Me”). She begins writing a mental note to her baby.
Several months pass and Dawn and Ogie marry (“I Love You Like a Table”). At the reception, Jenna asks if Cal, despite his affair, is truly happy; he responds that he is “happy enough.” Joe tells Jenna his sincere hopes for her (“Take it From an Old Man”). Earl drags Jenna home and uncovers the money she has been hiding. She meekly tells him she has been saving for the baby, but Earl leaves with the money (“Dear Baby”). Jenna breaks down, lamenting her long-lost control over her life (“She Used To Be Mine”).
Jenna goes into labor. She sees Joe at the hospital on his way to surgery; knowing he is dying, he gives her an envelope to open later. Earl, Becky and Dawn, and even Dr. Pomatter's wife crowd the delivery room, and Jenna cries out in distress. Silence falls, broken by the newborn’s cries ("Contraction Ballet"). Jenna names her daughter Lulu. Earl reminds her of her promise not to love Lulu more than him, and Jenna finally tells him she wants a divorce. He reacts poorly, and she vows to run him over if she ever sees him again. Dr. Pomatter asks Jenna to continue their relationship, but Jenna refuses to remain "happy enough" and ends the affair. As thanks for his positive impact on her life, she gives him a moon pie. Jenna remarks on her change in outlook with Lulu in her life (“Everything Changes”).
Jenna opens Joe’s note to discover he has left her the diner, asking her to name a pie after him. A few years later, the diner has been rechristened “Lulu's Pies” and Jenna, the owner and head chef, is content that her life has finally turned around ("Opening Up (Finale)").
Waitress features an original score, with music and lyrics by American singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles. The musical uses a six-member orchestra consisting of keyboard, piano, cello, guitar, bass and drums. In addition to the show's musical numbers, Bareilles also recorded the "turn off your cellphone" message, rewriting part of her original song "Cassiopeia".
- 2015 A.R.T., Boston Production
- 2016 Broadway Production
† Not included on original Broadway playbill.
Bareilles recorded her fifth studio album, What's Inside: Songs from Waitress, featuring songs from the musical. It was released through Epic Records on November 6, 2015. The album debuted at number ten on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart with 30,000 equivalent album units in its first week of release, giving Barellies her fifth top-ten album. The lead single from the album, "She Used to Be Mine", was released digitally on September 25, 2015. Speaking about the release of the album, Bareilles stated that her decision to record an album of the songs came because it "proved impossible for me to imagine handing over the songs to the show before selfishly finding a way to sing them myself."
In April 2016, it was announced that a cast album would be recorded the following month. The original Broadway cast recording was released as a digital download on June 3, and the physical release followed on July 1, 2016. The album was produced by Bareilles with Neal Avron, and recorded by DMI Soundtracks.
|1.||"What's Inside"||Jessie Mueller, Ensemble||1:32|
|2.||"Opening Up"||Mueller, Keala Settle, Kimiko Glenn, Eric Anderson, Ensemble||2:32|
|3.||"The Negative"||Settle, Glenn, Mueller||2:28|
|4.||"What Baking Can Do"||Mueller, Ensemble||3:30|
|5.||"Club Knocked Up"||Aisha Jackson, Stephanie Torns, Molly Hager, Charity Angél Dawson||0:46|
|6.||"Pomatter Pie"||The Waitress Band||1:01|
|7.||"When He Sees Me"||Glenn, Mueller, Settle, Ensemble||3:43|
|8.||"It Only Takes a Taste"||Drew Gehling, Mueller||3:09|
|9.||"You Will Still Be Mine"||Nick Cordero, Mueller||2:18|
|10.||"A Soft Place to Land"||Mueller, Settle, Glenn||2:57|
|11.||"Never Ever Getting Rid of Me"||Christopher Fitzgerald, Glenn, Ensemble||2:16|
|12.||"Bad Idea"||Mueller, Gehling, Ensemble||3:07|
|13.||"I Didn't Plan It"||Settle||2:40|
|14.||"Bad Idea (Reprise)"||Gehling, Mueller, Settle, Anderson, Glenn, Fitzgerald, Ensemble||1:03|
|15.||"You Matter to Me"||Gehling, Mueller||4:21|
|16.||"I Love You Like a Table"||Fitzgerald, Glenn, Ensemble||1:56|
|17.||"Take It from an Old Man"||Dakin Matthews, Ensemble||2:37|
|19.||"She Used to Be Mine"||Mueller||4:27|
|20.||"Contraction Ballet"||Mueller, Ensemble||1:02|
|21.||"Everything Changes"||Mueller, Settle, Glenn, Ensemble||3:02|
|22.||"Opening Up (Finale)"||Company||1:44|
The characters and casts:
|American Repertory Theater
|Original Broadway Cast
|US Tour Cast
|Philippines 2018||West End |
|Jenna Hunterson||Jessie Mueller||Desi Oakley||Joanna Ampil||Katharine McPhee|
|Dr. Jim Pomatter||Bryce Pinkham||Drew Gehling||Bryan Fenkart||Bibo Reyes||David Hunter|
|Earl Hunterson||Andy Karl||Joe Tippett||Nick Cordero||Nick Bailey||George Schulze||Peter Hannah|
|Becky||Keala Settle||Charity Angel Dawson||Bituin Escalante||Marisha Wallace|
|Dawn Williams||Barrett Wilbert Weed||Jeanna de Waal||Kimiko Glenn||Lenne Klingaman||Maronne Cruz||Laura Baldwin|
|Joe/Josie||Dakin Matthews||Larry Marshall||Steven Conde||Shaun Prendergast|
|Ogie Anhorn||Christopher Fitzgerald||Jeremy Morse||Christopher Fitzgerald||Jeremy Morse||Nino Alejandro||Jack McBrayer|
|Cal||Eric Anderson||Ryan G. Dunkin||Dean Rosen||Stephen Leask|
|Nurse Norma||Amber Iman||Charity Angel Dawson||Maiesha McQueen||Emeline Guinid||Kelly Agbowu|
|Fifi Christophers |
- Jenna Hunterson: Sara Bareilles, Betsy Wolfe, Katharine McPhee, Nicolette Robinson, Shoshana Bean
- Dr. Jim Pomatter: Chris Diamantopoulos, Jason Mraz, Erich Bergen, Gavin Creel, Joey McIntyre
- Earl Hunterson: Will Swenson
- Dawn: Jenna Ushkowitz, Katie Lowes
- Joe/Josie: John Cullum, Al Roker, June Squibb
- Ogie: Alex Wyse, Eddie Jemison (reprising his role from the film)
The show garnered generally mixed-to-positive reviews in both runs. Frank Rizzo, reviewing the Boston production for Variety, wrote: "...making Earl so relentlessly horrible makes Jenna's inability to leave him not just indecisive but something more worrisome... Meanwhile, there's little evidence for the good doctor being Jenna's lost soulmate, despite his loving bedside manner,... Mueller's performance transcends the show's imperfections. She's funny, frisky and likable. She sings Bareilles' songs beautifully... director Diane Paulus fills the production with clever touches – a scalloped pie-crust proscenium, a fluid and easygoing flow and a natural truthfulness in the performances."
For the Broadway production, many critics found Bareilles' score and Mueller's performance to be the highlights of the show. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times gave a mixed review of the show, but called Mueller's performance "a high point of the Broadway season". Time Out New York gave the production four stars and said "...Waitress has an excellent ratio of sweet to tart; supporting characters who provide crustiness (Dakin Matthews's grumbly store owner) and flakiness (Christopher Fitzgerald's loony admirer of another waitress); and cooked-to-perfection staging by Diane Paulus. The whole dish is—please forgive me—love at first bite." David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter said "...the material is anchored at every step by Bareilles' melodious pop score and Mueller's supremely natural performance as Jenna. While the stock characters that surround her may be familiar, they're a winsome bunch played by sterling performers..."
Awards and nominations
|2016||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|||
|Best Original Score||Sara Bareilles||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical||Jessie Mueller||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical||Christopher Fitzgerald||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Musical||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Jessie Mueller||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Christopher Fitzgerald||Won|
|Outstanding Outstanding Book of a Musical||Jessie Nelson||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music||Sara Bareilles||Nominated|
|Drama League Award||Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical||Nominated|||
|Distinguished Performance Award||Jessie Mueller||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding New Broadway Musical||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Jessie Mueller||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Christopher Fitzgerald||Won|
|Outstanding New Score (Broadway or off-Broadway)||Sara Bareilles||Nominated|
|Broadway.com Audience Awards||Favorite Musical||Nominated|||
|Favorite Actress in a Musical||Jessie Mueller||Nominated|
|2017||Grammy Award||Best Musical Theater Album||Nominated|||
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