Waitress, about a small-town diner worker and expert pie maker who is stuck in a loveless marriage, premiered at American Repertory Theater in August starring Tony winner Jessie Mueller. The Diane Paulus-directed musical, with music and lyrics by Bareilles, concluded its run Sept. 27 and is set to open the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in April 2016.
"We're in a constant open dialogue about [changes]," says Bareilles. "There are a lot of things that are being re-examined. The set design, lots of moments in the music… Once you get the opportunity to see the show in front of an audience, you sort of realize so much about it. Things that I thought were very clear end up being confusing or the narrative isn't coming through as strong as it could."
"It's been such a learning process for me, as this is my first time composing for this medium," she continues. "So I'm staying really open-minded, and we just want to tell the best story for the New York audience and give this show the heart and soul that it deserves."
Bareilles has spoken openly before about her love for the show and working on its development. "It's been a lot of years since I've felt as impassioned by a project as I have with this one," she says. "I know that that's a rare phenomenon."
Before the show's Broadway opening, Bareilles will release her fifth studio album "What's Inside: Songs from Waitress" Nov. 6. The album features a selection of 12 songs from the musical, sung by the singer-songwriter herself. "It's a completely self-indulgent project," she says. "I'm being totally selfish in allowing myself to have an entire record devoted to letting myself sing my own score."
Bareilles describes the album as "its own entity... The arrangements are different than they are in the show," she explains. "I tried to choose the songs that for whatever reason, jumped out at me. I wanted to choose the cornerstone moments first for some of the characters."
"I didn't want to give everything away, of course," she adds. "But I also feel like there's something really powerful about going and seeing a show with a thread of familiarity."
She also reveals that some of the songs on "What's Inside" have since been changed in the upcoming stage version of the show. "As it goes with a brand-new musical, everything is in flux."
Bareilles isn't allowing herself any time to rest before her Broadway debut. The star is currently on a book tour for "Sounds Like Me: My Life (so far) in Song," a compilation of essays that share the intimate stories behind some of her top hits and the impact they've had on her personally and professionally that she describes as "a very confessional experience." The essays detail such experiences as a high school boyfriend who cheated on her, leaving her broken-hearted but inspiring the song "Gravity." In the book, Bareilles recalls sitting at her father's piano, her first summer back from college and "still being caught up in the drama of being in love with someone who is essentially not good for you… then watching how the song has informed my life and created so much good out of something so painful."
"I tried to just be really honest and as vulnerable as I could bear to be in sharing the stories behind how some of these songs came to fruition," she continues. "I just wanted to tell a little bit of my story."
With all of these projects on her plate, it's hard to imagine how Bareilles can find the time to think about making new music. "It's actually starting to bubble up now," she assures. "There are these rumblings that are beginning that I can feel myself feeling creative again which is exciting because I thought that part had long died," she says, laughing. "There are moments where I'm like, 'I'm never going to write another song.' It's nice to feel excited about what will come next."
Fans of Waitress are surely wondering whether that future entails more work in the realm of musical theatre. "I really, really hope so," says Bareilles. "I hope that this is a community that I'm a part of for the rest of my life."
"I've been so amazed by how openhearted and warmly I have been welcomed," she says. "I feel speechless about it. I have witnessed such staggering talent, such generosity, such diligence and devotion to the craft… In general, what I see in the theatre community is the kind of work ethic and devotion to the craft that I wish permeated the rest of the music industry."