Sara Bareilles steps into the spotlight of Waitress March 31, marking her Broadway performing debut. The show’s Grammy and Tony-nominated composer-lyricist takes on the central role of Jenna, originated by Tony winner Jessie Mueller.
Also taking their first bows March 31 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre are Chris Diamantopoulos and Tony nominee Will Swenson, who step into the roles of Dr. Pomatter and Earl. They take over for Drew Gehling and William Popp, respectively.
Bareilles told Playbill in a 2015 interview that she spent many of her childhood years performing on the stage of her community theatre in musicals like Little Shop of Horrors and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Bareilles, who was also “obsessed” with The Sound of Music, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon, watched her mother and older sister star in various productions. She credited her sister for introducing her to the world of musical theatre.
“I wanted to grow up and be her,” Bareilles said. “One of my earliest memories of writing at a piano was alongside my sister. We did all the duets together from all the musicals. Any time there was a duet to be sung, we did it together.”
She added, “Stepping back into theatre, a childhood dream, I always felt like I would be onstage. I hadn’t imagined myself in a composer role... I find it so satisfying to be behind the scenes and writing the music and watching it elevated and characterized by different voices than my own.”
Bareilles also revealed that the first song she composed for Waitress was the moving anthem “She Used to Be Mine,” which she will now perform nightly. “I have never had an experience before where I have written a song and now when I hear the song it makes me cry,” she said. “It’s been a really interesting experience of channeling these characters’ stories.”
Bareilles has earned Grammy nominations for her songs “Love Song,” “King of Anything,” and “Brave,” as well as her album The Blessed Unrest. Her score for Waitress earned her a Tony nomination, as was as an additional Grammy nod for Best Musical Theater Album. Prior to Waitress’ Broadway premiere, Bareilles recorded a concept album for the show titled What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress.
Diamantopoulos is most known for his work on the small screen, including performances in Good Girls Revolt, The Starter Wife, Episodes, Arrested Development, and 24. He last appeared on Broadway in 2000’s The Full Monty; he made his debut as Marius in Les Miserables. Swenson last appeared on Broadway in Disaster! A Tony nominee for Hair, his additional credits include Les Misérables, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and 110 in the Shade.
Waitress, featuring a book by Jessie Nelson and directed by Diane Paulus, tells the story of a small-town diner employee who channels her hopes, fears, excitement, and frustrations into her love of creating cheekily-titled pies. A baking competition—and a tryst with her gynecologist—offer her chance of escape from her abusive marriage.
Bareilles is scheduled to play a limited engagement through June 11. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster at (877) 250-2929, online at Ticketmaster.com or at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre box office, 256 West 47th Street.