Jenna Hunterson

Jenna Hunterson is a specialist pie baker and the owner of Lulu’s Pies, formerly Joe’s Pie Diner, a diner located in the American south. The diner specialises in the sale of freshly-baked pies, cooked on the premises every day, many of which are uniquely invented by Hunterson. She is the mother of Lulu Hunterson, after whom the diner is named.

Background and Story

Jenna learned to bake from a young age, taught by her mother, who used baking as escapism from the troubled relationship she had with Jenna’s father. She married Earl Hunterson when she was young and vulnerable, after suffering great loss when her mother died and her father was drunk every night.

Jenna’s doctor, Lily Perkins retired just before Jenna discovered she was pregnant, and was replaced by Dr. Jim Pomatter, who moved to the area due to his wife taking a residency at the local hospital. In Dr. Pomatter, Jenna finds a kindred spirit, someone with whom she could find true happiness, after he breaks his sugar fast and tries the Mermaid Marshmallow Pie she had brought for Dr. Perkins.

Jenna is encouraged to leave her husband fair and square by Joe, the owner of Joe’s Pie Diner, with whom she strikes an unlikely friendship, when he sees that the National Pie Bake Off is coming to Springfield and that the prize money is $20,000. Jenna begins secretly storing money so that she can pay the entry fee for the contest, but Earl discovers this and gatecrashes the wedding of Dawn and Ogie to pull her away and confront her. She tells him she has been saving money for a crib.

Secretly having an affair with Dr. Pomatter, Jenna is conflicted, and after having given birth to Lulu in hospital, she finally has the courage to tell Earl she doesn’t love him anymore and wants a divorce. She then ends her affair with Dr. Pomatter.

Joe, who loved the pies Jenna made for his diner, was also in hospital having liver surgery. He unfortunately passed away during the surgery, but left Jenna the diner, which, five years later, Jenna has renamed Lulu’s Pies, with a special pie, Old Joe’s Slice of Heaven Pie, with tomato on the side on its own plate, dedicated to Joe.

Songs

Jenna features on the majority of songs in Waitress, notably:

What Baking Can Do‘ replaced ‘Door Number Three‘ when the show transferred to Broadway.

Pies

Some of the many pies Jenna has invented include:

  • Betrayed By My Eggs Pie
  • My Husband’s A Jerk Chicken Pot Pie
  • Life’s Just Peachy Peachy Keen Pie
  • Where There’s A Whisk There’s A Way Pie
  • Mermaid Marshmallow Pie
  • Jumping Without A Net Bottomless Pie
  • Getting Out of the Mud Mud Pie
  • Meet Your Dream Chocolate Cream Pie
  • Almost Makes You Believe Again Pie
  • Believe Again Poppy Seed Pocket Pies
  • I Wanna Play Doctor With My Gynaecologist Pie
  • I Can’t Have An Affair Because It’s Wrong and I Don’t Want Earl to Kill Me Pie
  • Jenna’s Devil’s Food Oasis Pie
  • A Little Wild, Wild Berry Pie
  • In the Dark, Dark Chocolate Pie
  • Twisted Kentucky Pecan Pie
  • The Pursuit of Happiness Pie
  • Lonely Chicago Pie
  • Old Joe’s Horny Past Pie
  • Old Joe’s Slice of Heaven Pie, with tomato on the side on its own plate

Actors/Actreses

The role of Jenna was originally played by Jessie Mueller in the American Repertory Theater and original Broadway productions, and has been played by Sara Bareilles on three separate occasions. Other notable Jenna’s on Broadway include Stephanie TornsBetsy WolfeShoshana Bean and Jordin SparksDesi Oakley was the primary Jenna for the US First National Tour.

In London’s West End, the role was originated by Katharine McPhee, who had previously played the role on Broadway, before being played by Lucie Jones. Desi Oakley made her West End debut as Jenna for two weeks in January 2020, due to cast illness. Sara Bareilles also reprised her Broadway role for 6 weeks from late January 2020.

Broadway

Understudies, including Ragan Pharris, Emily KochKeri René Fuller and Molly Jobe (and Stephanie Torns) have played the role of Jenna throughout gaps in casting and during cast holidays/absence.

West End

Olivia Moore and Sarah O’Connor have played the role of Jenna during cast holidays/absence.

For two weeks, commencing 13 January 2020, Desi Oakley played the role of Jenna in an unannounced casting change, due to illness and holidays of the three actors rehearsed as Jenna. On 20 January 2020, Lucie Jones resumed her role as Jenna, before feeling too ill to continue, with Desi taking over for Act 2.

Other

NameJenna Hunterson
OccupationLulu’s Pies, Owner
Joe’s Pie Diner, Waitress
SpouseEarl Hunterson
ChildLulu Hunterson
Original CastJessie Mueller Broadway
Katharine McPhee West End
Desi Oakley First National Tour