The long-running hit musical Waitress, currently playing at Broadway’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre, has just entered the final six-months of its celebrated run. Producers of the musical announced today that the show will shutter after 1,544 regular performances on January, 5, 2020. Waitress, which is based upon the 2007 motion picture of the same name written by Adrienne Shelly, held its own against the Tony’s juggernaut Hamilton in 2016, and emerged as both a critical and financial success, recouping its $12 million investment in less than 10 months on Broadway.
Waitress holds the distinction of being the first Broadway musical in history to have four women at its creative helm. The musical features a book by Jessie Nelson, a score by six-time Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, choreography by Lorin Latarro, and direction by Tony Award-winner Diane Paulus.
Among the notable talents to have made their way through the diner include Adam Shapiro, Al Roker, Betsy Wolfe, Christopher Fitzgerald, Colleen Ballinger, Dakin Matthews, Drew Gehling, Eddie Jemison (who played Ogie in the film), Erich Bergen, Gavin Creel, Jason Mraz, Jenna Ushkowitz, Jeremy Jordan, Jessie Mueller, Joey MacIntyre, John Cullum, June Squibb (who played the role of Josie – formerly Joe), Katharine McPhee, Katie Lowes, Keala Settle, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolette Robinson, Noah Galvin, Sara Bareilles (in her Broadway stage debut), Shoshana Bean, Todrick Hall, Will Swenson, and eight five-year-old girls who played Lulu.
Waitress opened on Broadway on April 24, 2016. During its run, Waitress became the longest-running musical at The Brooks Atkinson Theatre and one of the longest-running shows in recent Broadway history, surpassing the lengthy engagements of Dreamgirls, Mame, Funny Girl, and The Sound of Music. In addition to the Broadway engagement, Waitress is now playing in London’s West End at the Adelphi Theatre, on a North American tour, and is planning to open in Australia in 2020.
The experience of Waitress at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre has always been a unique one. Waitress is the first show in Broadway history to have a credited Pie Consultant in the Playbill. Baker Stacy Donnelly bakes the pies that the cast eats on stage, as well as the mini Mason Jar pies which concessionaires in waitress uniforms sell at the show. Ms. Donnelly also coached the leading actors in how to handle the ingredients and the dough. As a special part of the immersive experience, an actual pie bakes in a convection oven as the audience enters the theatre, filling the space with the mouthwatering aroma of apples and cinnamon.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the show brought attention to the cause by changing the waitresses’ iconic blue uniforms to pink ones. The cast and crew of Waitress have always been a big part of the Broadway community, involved in charities and fundraisers.
“Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and rocky marriage. Pouring her heart into her pies, she crafts desserts that mirror her topsy-turvy life such as “The Key (Lime) to Happiness Pie” and “Betrayed By My Eggs Pie.” When a baking contest in a nearby county — and a satisfying run-in with someone new — show Jenna a chance at a fresh start, she must find the courage to seize it. Change is on the menu, as long as Jenna can write her own perfectly personal recipe for happiness.”
The current Broadway cast of Waitress includes Shoshana Bean, Charity Angel Dawson, Caitlin Houlahan, Erich Bergen, Ben Thompson, Larry Marshall, Benny Elledge, Noah Galvin, Melody A. Betts, Tyrone Davis Jr., Andrew Fitch, Molly Hager, Jessie Hooker-Bailey, Arica Jackson, Molly Jobe, Brandon Kalm, Max Kumangai, Tess Murphy, Everleigh Rotunno, Stephanie Torns and Dan Tracy.
Waitress is produced on Broadway by Barry and Fran Weissler and Norton and Elayne Herrick.
Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.