Jennifer Nettles will return to Broadway in the return engagement of Waitress. The Grammy winner will take on the role of Jenna, succeeding Sara Bareilles beginning October 19 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. As previously announced, fellow Grammy winner Bareilles (who also composed the musical) will take her final bow October 17.
Nettles, lead vocalist of the country duo Sugarland, made her Broadway debut in 2015 as Roxie Hart in Chicago (produced, like Waitress, by Barry and Fran Weissler). She’s subsequently headlined Mamma Mia! at the Hollywood Bowl, collaborated with Wicked on the show’s #OutofOz series, and performed at MCC Theater’s famed Miscast gala. Earlier this year, she released Always Like New, featuring new arrangements of classic and contemporary Broadway show tunes.
She's also expressed her fondness for Bareilles' score in the past, incorporating the show's signature ballad "She Used to Be Mine" in some concert sets.
Setting sights on a composing stint herself, Nettles is at work on musicalizing the life of Giulia Tofana, a 17th century Italian slow poisoner famed for helping fellow women kill their domineering or abusive husbands. Waitress’ Jenna, in an unhealthy marriage herself, takes a decidedly sweeter approach, swapping poison for expressive and creatively titled pies.
In additional casting news, Maiesha McQueen (an alum of the musical's national tour) and Ashley Blanchet (Frozen) and assume the roles of Becky and Dawn beginning October 5. Their predecessors—Charity Angel Dawson and Caitlin Houlahan—are soon to appear in Broadway's Mrs. Doubtfire and Girl From the North Country, respectively.
Nettles will appear in the show through November 24. The current cast also includes Christopher Fitzgerald in his Tony-nominated performance as Ogie, Drew Gehling as Dr. Pomatter, Eric Anderson as Cal, Dakin Matthews as Joe, and Joe Tippett as Earl. Rounding out the company are Tyrone Davis, Jr., Matt DeAngelis, Andrew Fitch, Henry Gottfried, Molly Jobe, Emily Koch, Max Kumangai, Anastacia McCleskey, Gerianne Pérez, Stephanie Torns, and Nyla Watson. Almost all are alums of the show's previous Broadway and/or touring productions.
Based on the 2007 film, Waitress originally opened on Broadway in April 2016 following a world premiere at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It made history as the first Broadway musical to have women in the top four creative spots: Bareilles, director Diane Paulus, book writer Jessie Nelson, and choreographer Lorin Latarro.