Sara Bareilles, Jessie Mueller and Diane Paulus on What It Means to Be a Waitress

News   Sara Bareilles, Jessie Mueller and Diane Paulus on What It Means to Be a Waitress Ahead of the Aug. 2 premiere of the new musical Waitress, the American Repertory Theater sat down with singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, book writer Jessie Nelson, director Diane Paulus, actress Jessie Mueller and several other members of the creative team to reflect on their experiences in the service industry.

"I worked as a waitress for a long time—all through my college years, and post-college when I first formed a band. I actually loved being a waitress. It’s hard work, but it’s also really gratifying and social. And that experience has definitely informed some of the Waitress lyrics," Bareilles said.

While Mueller confessed, "I've never been a waitress. I almost can’t believe it. I've catered, but catering is faceless, which is sometimes a nice thing. You're not really serving... For the waitresses in the musical, there is certainly a pride in it. For my character, Jenna, it’s the one place she feels proud; she feels useful. I think it’s the only place she feels like herself, or whatever version of herself she remembers as being good."

"When I was in high school, I worked as the 'dessert girl' in a restaurant during the summer," Paulus said. "I stood behind a counter and was in charge of preparing all the desserts mostly putting out slices of cake, pie, and fancy cookies. I remember one day my boyfriend at the time (now my husband!) came in and passed me a little piece of paper with 'I love you' written on it. I was holding a large platter of cookies. When I saw what he had written, I dropped the entire platter."

"I was a waitress for nine years...," Nelson recalled. That period when I carried the tray was one of the most unexpectedly meaningful times of my life because of the camaraderie I felt with the women I worked with—women I normally would never have known. When I got my first break, and left the restaurant in California, two of the older waitresses flew to New York on opening night to surprise me. We had never seen each other without a name tag or uniform."

Read even more of their stories here.

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