By Sascha Zuger
With a sweet-as-pie return to Broadway, Sara Bareilles rejoins Waitress and the original girl power creative team (Bareilles—Music& Lyrics, Jessie Nelson —Book, Lorin Latarro—Choreographer, Diane Paulus—Director) that brought this stage show to life. The popular singer-songwriter (Brave, Love Song) is stepping back into the lead as Jenna through October 17 with charisma and heartfelt vocals, matched only by the chemistry with Drew Gehling and fellow stellar members of her Joe’s Pie Diner family. The friendship with Jenna’s ‘diner squad’ (Charity Angél Dawson with her powerhouse pipes and Caitlin Houlahan’s endearing, quirky-comedic charm) sees the baker-waitress through challenges of a rocky marriage, with hopes of winning a pie competition grease-and-flouring her path to a brighter future.
“Waitress is a show that centers on resilience and hope — which is what we all need right now!”says Tony-Award winning Director, Diane Paulus. “Plus Sara Bareilles’ music lifts your soul. I was so overwhelmed sitting in the audience on the first night of re-opening Broadway. It was so energizing and the theater was filled with communal joy.”
The electric vibe of pent-up utter celebration of Broadway’s return remains high as grandma’s meringue, as the audience leapt to their feet for multiple mid-performance standing ovations, including for Bareilles’ poignant but powerful, “She Used to Be Mine”. Every member of the cast and onstage band form integral ingredients to the show’s flavor. Anticipatory scene-stalling guffaws as Christopher Fitzgerald merely stepped into the diner highlighted how many fans had returned for a second or third helping of Waitress and hinted at the absurd hilarity to come.
The show was the first Broadway musical to rely on an all-female head creative team, so in addition to treating yourself to a fabulous evening of Broadway, snagging tickets before October 17 to experience the dream team in action feels like a particularly special Bella’esque treat.
“I feel so lucky to be working again with the amazing women who make up the creative team of Waitress. This all-female team leads with their hearts and with kindness, which has been especially centering and restorative, given the difficulties of what we have all been through and the challenges we continue to face.”
Fair warning, if you are new to the world of Broadway, this gateway elixir will surely fuel a future addiction to the best of live theatre. As Jenna might say, “It only takes a taste when you know it’s good.”
Waitress runs through January 9, 2022 at the Barrymore Theatre (W. 47th & Broadway)
Where to Stay — Hotel Edison
Stylish digs are mere feet away, with art-deco Hotel Edison’s lobby directly across the street from the theatre. The historic property— whose namesake, Thomas Edison, turned on the marquee lights of the hotel himself upon its 1931 opening— marries vintage vibe with modern attention to detail. Luxury amenities like Frette robes, C.O. Bigelow toiletries and Starbucks in-room coffee join perks like a well-equipped 24hour fitness room and free NYC walking tours to cover every need. If a slice of Waitress has you craving more Broadway, the on-site theatre concierge can hunt down last minute tickets or hard-to-find show seats. Rooms with multiple beds can be tricky to find in the city. Hotel Edison not only has an abundance of spacious Signature Suites with outdoor terraces and marble baths perfect for girlfriend-getaways, but offers adjoining rooms or Signature Family Suites with mini-fridge/microwave and separate sleeping spaces.
Onsite farm-fresh Friedman’s gives upscale diner/cafe energy, with an entire all-day breakfast menu that can be ordered gluten-free. (Times Squares’ biggest GF craft beer and hard cider list also lives here.) A real gem for post-show bar snacks and cocktail fun is the Rum House. Private entrance from within the hotel leads to a candle-lit cozy hideaway, with the hotel’s Jazz Age shining through in nightly live music offerings and a noon-6pm early happy hour almost as expansive as the club’s spirits and rum collection. Its ranking as one of NYC’s Top Cocktail Bars by EaterNY keeps the joint hopping.
Where to Eat — Junior’s
After sitting down for a heaping helping of Waitress fun, you just might find yourself craving some solid diner-deli, comfort food, home cookin’ eats. Junior’s, a third-generation NYC institution will not disappoint, and bonus— is known as home to New York’s Best Cheesecake. The famed 1950 Flatbush Ave Brooklyn original offers two Theater District outposts for the Broadway crowd, conveniently sandwiching Waitress and Hotel Edison on 45th and 49th. The 49th street Junior’s location offers the retro diner look of the original, but the 45th has been quite popular of late for its 90-seat covered patio dining.
Both offer full bar and pre-theatre convenience that will get you to your show on time, or post-show late night serving hours. Pros will pop in for their matzoh ball soup or a Something Different tender brisket between two latkes (apple sauce, homemade mushroom gravy or sour cream on the side) and return after the show for the iconic slice of cheesecake, so as not to waste a forkful on getting too full to finish. Don’t be surprised to see the occasional actor or stagehand pop in between scenes and order a Reuben-to-go and return to snag it during intermission or their next big number.
“We’re so excited Broadway is back, I want to go see everything,” says third generation owner Alan Rosen. “One of my favorites things to do is go check on my restaurants and see a show. Broadway is vital, not just for Junior’s, but for New York City. After the last 14 months, it’s like a rebirth.”
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