What do bunnies have to do with Sara Bareilles’ new musical Waitress? Well, nothing. Except that one of the men in the show tells the group he once heard the word “bunnies” instead of “money” during a more dramatic moment onstage, and it takes us all a minute to compose ourselves from laughter. But the laughter didn’t stop there. We sat down with Eric Anderson, Nick Cordero, Christopher Fitzgerald, Drew Gehling and Dakin Matthews to find out more about what’s inside the performances by the talented leading men at Waitress. The five guys reveal who is most like their character in the show, where they hang out post-show and which one of them came out in a onesie during curtain call. Order up on a delicious five-ingredient Berry Big Talent Crush Pie!
We've heard a lot from the women of the show, but I want to know the male perspective. What was it like working with an all-female creative team?
Dakin Matthews: It was like working with an all-male creative team, only prettier.
Christopher Fitzgerald: I found it to be no different.
Dakin: As intimidating as anything else. [Laughs.]
Chris: As the challenges and victories of any process…
Eric Anderson: As eccentrically artistic as any other production.
Whose dressing room are you most likely to be hanging out in backstage?
Nick Cordero: We split it up.
Dakin: Drew’s re-decorated his room…
Drew Gehling: It’s beautiful…
Dakin: It’s like the inner sanctum, and we’re not really allowed in there.
Chris: Yeah, you have to get a pass if you want to go in.
Dakin: And he has a little gift shop on the side.
Chris: And you have to sign in when you come. Is that true or not?
Drew: That is true. I have a guest book.
Who has signed your guest book so far?
Drew: Anyone that comes in. Stephen Sondheim. Steven Segal. Anyone who comes and sees the show, I try to have them sign my guest book.
Dakin: It’s not the most spacious backstage, so there’s a lot of hanging out in hallways and stairways and corridors.
Chris: This is a playhouse; this is not a musical house. There’s a distinction.
Dakin: It’s almost a dollhouse…
Where are you most likely to hang out outside of the theatre?
Eric: Unless, we go somewhere for a drink.
Chris: Ah, that’s what she wants to know. So give her the top three drink places.
Dakin: Glass House [Tavern].
Eric: Yeah, Glass House is the one that everybody knows about.
Dakin: Yeah, it’s the closest.
Dakin: I hang out at Connolly Station in Malverne in Long Island. It’s [close to] my house—Tony Danza’s bar.
Drew: They know you well.
Chris: On Saturday nights, our dresser, Ricky Jay Yates, sponsors a drink night on our stairwell over by Drew, Nick and I and our dressing room. And it’s always a different drink.
Eric: Yeah, signature cocktails every week.
Chris: Every Saturday there’s some food, some music, it’s a lovely time. It allows us to unwind a little bit.
Eric: A puppet show…
Dakin: And I hear there are drinks named after us down in the lobby.
Drew: Yeah, I think Old Joe has a cocktail named after him.
Each of your characters is such a distinct guy. Who of you is the most like his character?
[Everyone points to Eric Anderson.]
Nick: There is literally no difference.
Drew: Eric Anderson is Cal.
Chris: Although, are you as a good of a cook as Cal?
Drew: He did make a mean bacon the other day.
Eric: I did.
What’s your favorite thing to cook?
Dakin: Well, I have to say, when we started this whole thing in Boston, many months ago, he made a Blueberry Bacon Pie—his first pie—and it was unbelievable.
Eric: It was as patriotic as the holiday it was baked for.
Dakin, what's inside the card you give to Jenna? Do you actually write something?
Dakin: Nope. I’ve never opened it. I don’t even know if there’s anything in there. I think there is. Most prop people put the real thing in the cards that they’re supposed to say.
Drew, you worked with Jessie before in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. How did having an established relationship help you guys bring Jenna and Dr. Pomatter to life?
Chris: What a nice question.
Drew: That is a nice question. I think the cool thing about working with people again—and that just seems to happen more as time goes by—you have a base language that already exists between the two of you, and so we were able to access a vocabulary that we both have through years and years and years of knowing each other, socially as well as professionally. That made coming up with the kind of stuff that we would have to come up with in the show a lot easier last summer and this fall. It was great.
Chris: [Singing] HOME RUN BY DREW.
Drew: I thought I nailed that question!
Chris: You did.
Drew: It was just bullet points.
Chris: It was a home run!
Eric: It was a lot of years you guys knew each other.
Chris: It was many many many many many. Decades.
Chris, you made history in Chicago by playing both of the leading male roles of Billy Flynn and Amos Hart. [The men applaud.] If you could play another role in this show, what other role would you want to play?
Chris: [starts singing Earl’s song “You Will Still Be Mine”] “What was that one line? Something ‘bout sunshine. Played it every night.” [Earl] or Little Lulu.
Eric: Best role on Broadway.
What's your favorite song in the show?
Nick: I think you just sang it.
Dakin: Mine is “It Only Takes a Taste.”
Drew: Oh really? You liked that even last summer, too.
Dakin: Yeah, I think it’s the perfect song in the perfect place at the perfect moment of the narrative, and it doesn’t give too much away, but it gives just enough away. I think it’s a really perfect musical comedy song.
Drew: I really like “What Baking Can Do.” I think it’s my favorite.
Chris: I like “The Negative.” Because it’s hard to establish that in a way that’s funny, and I think it’s just smartly written.
Dakin: And raunchy at the same time.
Chris: And raunchy and funny and kind of gets their relationship cooking.
Nick: I also love Dakin’s song, “Take It from an Old Man.” I think it’s a beautiful song that speaks volumes about the character, and it’s just beautifully written.
Eric: I think I like “Brave.” [Everybody laughs.]
That’s actually my next question…What's your favorite Sara Bareilles song that’s not in Waitress?
Chris: What’s that one that goes [starts singing], “Ooh, how am I gonna get over you…” I like that one.
Dakin: I like “Manhattan.” I like the video of that, too.
Nick: She’s got a song called “Stay” that’s a ballad off her [Once Upon Another Time] album that’s incredible.
Dakin: “Down at the Diner” is a pretty good song.
Eric: That used to be in this show. That’s a great song.
Drew: I really like “Let the Rain.”
Eric: I really liked her cover of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”
If you had a pie named after your life, what would it be called?
Nick: Working on it Pie.
Drew: Five Minutes Late Pie.
Chris: Anxious, Self-Doubt, Too Sweet & Loud Pie.
Dakin: He’s Still Alive Pie.
What's your favorite thing to order at a diner?
Chris: I like corn beef and hash. But I like that dog food corn beef and hash—like right out of a can—I love it…and when they really get that crispy and salty goodness, and endless calories, with a buttered English muffin [and] two eggs over medium.
Drew: Yeah, that’s the thing: I’m only going to go with breakfast.
Eric: I love a good breakfast.
Chris: Well yeah, what are you going to go to a diner for? Stew?
Nick: Grilled cheese and tomato soup.
Dakin: Fish and Chips.
Drew: I go there for waffles.
Eric: Well, you can make waffles at home, though. I make good waffles at home.
Chris: I bet you do. You look like a waffle man.
Eric: I am the waffle man.
In the show there's the song "You Matter to Me." Name one thing that matters to you.
Nick: Coffee. Sleep.
Eric: Bacon. Soup.
Chris: The state of Nigeria’s economy.
Drew: The state of Nigeria’s economy? Please print that.
Chris: Well they’re in a recession right now…
Eric: Definitely family. Family first, and then everything else.
If the five of you ended up on a deserted island…
Drew: Who would we eat first?
Chris: Who would we eat first?
Drew: That’s a good question!
That’s not the question!
Chris: I think we’d go with Nick first because there’s a lot of sweet meat on there.
Drew: We’d slow roast him.
Chris: We’d slow roast him!
Drew: We’d braise Nick…
Well, the question actually is…who would be the last man standing?
Chris: Probably Nick. Actually, I think I might actually be because I’m like the angriest.
Dakin: If I were on Survivor, I might be the first off the island. So, I wouldn’t be the last man standing.
Chris: I think we’d probably draw straws.
Eric: How would we get off the island?
Drew: We’d fashion a raft.
Eric: I thought we were deserted. C’mon…
Tell me a "very good bad idea" you've had?
Chris: Doing this interview. Kidding. I’m totally kidding.
Dakin: Opening a restaurant. Thank God I never did, but it was an idea. It was a good-bad idea.
We’re going to play a lighting round of “Who is most likely to....”
Who is mostly likely to convince the other cast members to go out for a nightcap?
[Everyone points at Nick.]
Chris: We don’t need a discussion on that one.
Eric: “Good Time Cordero.”
Who is mostly likely to bake a pie for the cast?
Eric: Molly Jobe. Out of us? Me.
Who is mostly likely to post on their social media during intermission?
Drew: I’m going with [Eric] on this one.
Eric: I try to be a little more aloof about that.
Who is mostly likely to try to make each other laugh while waiting in the wings?
Everyone: Chris Fitzgerald.
Nick: Although Drew did wear a Team USA track onesie during curtain call!
Drew: During the Olympics. Yeah.
Who is mostly likely to wear their favorite sports jersey to work?
Drew: I think that counts.
Okay, last question. Five is the magic number for a boyband. If the five of you formed a boyband together, what would you be called?
Drew: The Crust.
Yvette Kojic is a performer, producer, director, daytime TV enthusiast and the groups director at Broadway Workshop. Follow her on Twitter at @yvettekojic.