About Waitress the Musical

Waitress is a musical, based on the 2007 film of the same name (written and directed by, and starring, Adrienne Shelly), with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles and a book by Jessie Nelson.

Story

Waitress is the story of Jenna Hunterson, an employee of Joe’s Pie Diner, a small cafe off-Highway 27 somewhere in small-town Indiana. Jenna is in an abusive relationship with her husband Earl. When Jenna unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she decides she needs to find a way to start a new life and pins her hopes on entering the National Pie Bake-Off so that she can win the grand prize and leave her husband.

At the same time, she begins to fall for her gynaecologist Dr. Jim Pomatter, and embarks on an affair with him, which, alongside her pregnancy and the prospect of being a mother, helps her discover who she used to be.

Jenna’s friends Becky and Dawn have their own troubles, and support each other through the messy human existence. Becky is married to Phil, and outside of being a waitress, is his carer. Dawn is scared to meet someone and fall in love, and so has become a recluse. Together, they inspire each other to dream bigger, and realise that everything changes.

Songs

An Original Broadway Cast Recording was released on 1 July 2016, featuring the full running order of songs from the show. Sara Bareilles also released some of her own recordings, prior to the American Repertory Theater premiere, as “What’s Inside: Songs From Waitress” and an EP of demo versions of songs not featured in the Broadway show, entitled “What’s Not Inside: The Lost Songs From Waitress.”

The songs featured in the Broadway show are:

Staging

The Broadway production of Waitress the Musical, officially ‘locked’ on its opening night on 24 April 2016, is the definitive version of the show with the original staging, featuring full Automation.

The show takes place in:

  • Joe’s Pie Diner – with Venetian blinds, open kitchen and pie menu board, breakfast bar and stools, tables and chairs, and seating booths, all containing condiments, menus and cutlery
  • Joe’s Pie Diner – with staff toilet, with sink and cubicle
  • Joe’s Pie Diner – pie production kitchen, with two separate shelves of ingredients and a large baking surface
  • Dr. Pomatter’s office – waiting room
  • Dr. Pomatter’s office – with examination table containing pull-out stirrups
  • Bus stop – with seating bench
  • Jenna and Earl’s house – front room, with sofa, storage cupboards
  • St. Joseph’s Hospital – delivery room, with hospital bed and crib

The band are also on stage for the majority of the show, rather than in the theatre pit.

History

See History of Waitress

SAVI

As Waitress the Musical contains themes of domestic violence, the show worked with SAVI – the Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention program – with their representatives visiting the cast during rehearsals. At stage door, the cast and crew have access to SAVI cards so they can be handed out.

Diane Paulus said: “It’s an amazing organisation where if you’re in any kind of trouble, you can just call this number and get help. So I think for those reasons it’s an important musical. I think when people ask how this is different, I don’t think there are many Broadway shows that end with a woman who is raising a child on her own and is running a business on her own, and not running off with a guy. I was looking at the curtain call the other day and I was struck by how often, in a show with men and women, do you see a curtain call where the men bow and then the final three bows are all women? It doesn’t really happen.”

Productions

Opening on Broadway for previews on 25 March 2016, Waitress the Musical was officially ‘locked’ on opening night, 24 April 2016. Less than 10 months after opening, Waitress on Broadway had recouped its entire $12 million cost, becoming one of only two shows from the 2015/16 season to recoup, alongside Hamilton.

The First National Tour of the US began at Playhouse Square in Cleveland on 20 October 20 2017. On 14 June 2018, the Gordon Frost Organisation announced that a production of Waitress will open in early 2020 at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney.

Later that year, on 25 September 2018, Sara Bareilles visited the UK to announced Waitress would open in the West End on 8 February 2019 at the Adelphi Theatre. The show then had its international premiere in Manila in the Philippines on 9 November 2018, led by Joanna Ampil.

After the West End production officially opened to the press on 6 March 2019, led by Katharine McPhee, the first official translated version was opened in Buenos Aires. Titled ‘Camerera’, the production was entirely in Argentinian Spanish, including both script and lyrics translated by Lily Ann Martin and Pablo del Campo, opening on 17 April and closing on 4 August 2019.

After close to 4 years on Broadway, the producers announced Waitress would close on 5 January 2020, with a second 2019/20 Tour opening on 7 November 2019 at the Velma V. Morrison Center in Boise, Idaho.

Waitress will have its Central European premiere in September 2020 on a The Netherlands Tour, led by Willemijn Verkaik.