Waitress is a musical with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, and a book by Jessie Nelson. Based on the 2007 film of the same name, written by Adrienne Shelly, the musical tells the story of Jenna Hunterson, a waitress in an unhappy marriage to her husband Earl. When Jenna unexpectedly becomes pregnant she begins an affair with her gynecologist Dr. Jim Pomatter. Looking for ways out she sees a pie contest and its grand prize as her chance.
Stage rights to the film were purchased in 2007, whilst the musical's creative team was assembled by 2013. The original production of Waitress premiered at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge in August 2015, with direction by Diane Paulus and choreography by Chase Brock, and starring Jessie Mueller, Drew Gehling and Joe Tippett as Jenna, Jim and Earl, respectively. It made its Broadway debut at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in April 2016. A US tour is scheduled for 2017.
The film was produced on a budget of just $1.5 million, earning over $23 million in global box office receipts. The film starred Keri Russell, and was written and directed by Adrienne Shelly, who was murdered three months prior to the premiere of Waitress at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The film followed Jenna, a waitress and pie chef living in the American South, who unexpectedly becomes pregnant and feels trapped in an unhappy marriage. Looking for ways out she sees a pie contest and its grand prize as her chance.
Following the 2013 Tony Awards, producers Barry and Fran Weissler announced that a musical version of the film was in the works, with Paula Vogel writing the book, music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles and direction by Diane Paulus.] The Weisslers purchased the stage rights to the film shortly after its release in 2007. Paula Vogel withdrew from the project in January 2014. On December 11, 2014, the musical was officially confirmed, and it was announced that the show would receive its world premiere at the American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, Massachusetts, as part of their 2015-16 season, with Jessie Nelson now writing the book. A workshop was held the same month in New York City, with Jessie Mueller, Keala Settle, Christopher Fitzgerald, Bryce Pinkham and Andy Karl, among others, taking part. Nelson, with the best wishes of the late Adrienne Shelly's husband, used some of Shelly's unfinished scripts to help bring "her voice" to the project. The original Broadway cast album was nominated for the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
With music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, book by Jessie Nelson, choreography by Lorin Latarro, and direction by Diane Paulus, Waitress made history on Broadway with the four top creative spots in a show being filled by women. In addition, the creative posts of costume design and musical direction were held by women. Sara Bareilles said she was proud to be part of an all-female team: "It's really fun to be an example of the way it can look. We're a bunch of women who are deeply committed to finding a way to build a unified vision." The only other musical with a similar history was the 1978 Broadway musical Runaways, which had a book, music, lyrics, choreography and direction solely by one woman, Elizabeth Swados.
A US national tour is scheduled to begin at the Playhouse Square in Cleveland on October 17, 2017.