Director Diane Paulus, composer Sara Bareilles, writer Jessie Nelson and choreographer Lorin Latarro join forces for “Waitress” as the ultimate squad and the first all-female creative team in Broadway history.
After a sold-out run at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2015, the show is “opening up” on Broadway on April 24, with previews beginning Friday.
“Waitress” stars Grammy and Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller as the main character, Jenna, a waitress at Joe’s Pie Diner. With music and lyrics by Bareilles, “Waitress” is based on the 2007 film with the same title written and directed by Adrienne Shelley.
The musical reveals the story of Jenna, a pie aficionado, who finds herself mistreated in an unhappy marriage to Earl, played by Nick Cordero. The situation takes a turn for the worse when Jenna realizes she’s pregnant with Earl’s child. In an effort to make enough money to leave her husband, Jenna enters a pie-baking contest. Along the way, she happens to fall in love with her gynecologist, Dr. Pomatter, played by Drew Gehling.
Jenna is supported by her two waitress friends Dawn, played by Kimiko Glenn, who is making her Broadway debut, and Keala Settle as Becky. As the show unfolds, the audience can see the unwavering bond between these three women and how they navigate their respective unpredictable relationships.
In an interview with amNewYork, choreographer Latarro emphasized the collaborative nature of fine-tuning the show for Broadway and working with Diane Paulus, Bareilles, the actors and the rest of the creative team. “Sometimes what I have created makes Sara watch what I’m doing and change the music,” Latarro said. She works off of the text and the songs while developing the actors’ movements on stage.
One of Latarro’s favorite scenes is “What’s Inside” early in the show when the audience begins to see Jenna’s love for pie-making. After visiting Japan two years ago and observing Kabuki theater, the choreographer was inspired to incorporate that style into “Waitress” and said, “instead of [Jenna] putting the ingredients in a bowl by herself, I have the ensemble just swirling around her handing her the ingredients.”
From Boston to Broadway, the original “Waitress” production has underwent a few adjustments. Latarro said the creative team cut two songs, changed the opening number and added one song to the show.
Although a soundtrack for the musical does not yet exist, Bareilles released her fourth studio album entitled “What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress” on Nov. 6 with music from her first theatrical score. The album includes the most noteworthy tune from the show, “She Used to Be Mine,” about Jenna’s emotional journey.
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