The uplifting musical “Waitress” is playing December 19-31 at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. With original music by Sara Bareilles, “Waitress” celebrates friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a good piece of pie. For tickets and information to to the “Waitress” page at denvercenter.org.
DENVER (CBS4) – On the surface of it, “Waitress,” the musical, is the story of Jenna, maker of marvelous pies, who seems trapped in her own life. On the other hand, two of her supporting characters, Becky and Dawn, help make the show what it is and help make Jenna’s life complete.
“Everybody’s characters are just as important as Jenna’s. That’s what makes the show so special is that these particular two individuals, Jenna’s besties at the diner, have their own individual stories. So Jenna is constantly learning from Dawn, and constantly growing from Becky,” said Desi Oakley, who plays Jenna in the touring production.
For Becky, the diner is a place she can lift her mood.
“I think she uses humor, she uses her sass to get through…to you know, kind of nudge at her friends,” said Charity Angel Dawson, who plays Becky.
For Dawn, it’s her search for both herself and more.
“I feel like her true north is always, like, the soft place to land scene. Coming back to these two who ground her and nourish that part of her heart and soul that is kind of finding who she is, and letting that part out,” said Lenne Klingaman, who plays Dawn.
In the end, they all emotionally support each other, in ways that become completely relatable to the audience.
“Waitress” (credit DCPA)
“It’s magic because we just pretty much say, ‘Hey, come on board, audience. Meet us where we are. We know each other, so it’s fun.’ It’s fun to see that and it’s fun to witness that and you recognize yourself in these characters,” Oakley explained.
It’s this emotional reality, as well as, the music by Sara Bareilles that makes “Waitress” come alive.
“I went in not knowing what to expect, but came out loving it and wanting pie,” said CBS4 Critic-at-Large Greg Moody.
“Waitress” is a musical about a diner, so the diner travels from city-to-city.
“You can’t have a diner without that iconic diner bell,” said Jovon Shuck, stage manager and pie wrangler, as he rang the bell.
Everything you need is there on stage, including real pie.
“We travel with our own kitchen, which I have right here next to me. All of the food in the show is real. There’s real eggs out there, there’s real pie, there’s real toast. So we have to travel a kitchen, complete with a convection oven for baking those pies,” Shuck showed CBS4 the traveling kitchen.
“We have four kinds of real pie in the show. We’ve got this wild berry pie. We’ve also got apple pie, good old apple. pie. And there’s also pecan pie floating around out there on stage,” Shuck explained.
Not only are there real pies, but there are 60 specially designed prop pies that brighten the set throughout the show. Whole pies some of which used to be real.
“Now a pie like this one starts out as a real pie, but gets a plastic coating and epoxy coating over it. So in the other pies, like this prize winning cream pie, is entirely a prop. It’s made out of all non-edible things,” Stuck said while showing some of the prop pies.
They even have special strappy prop pies to handle the big Broadway choreography.
“So some of our pies have to be rigged for choreography, we call these the ‘strappy pies’ for obvious reasons,” Stuck said with a laugh has he holds a pie upside down by a strap.
When you have a musical about pies and pie making, naturally, you have to have a pie consultant on staff.
“I, basically, consult on anything and everything pie. The show is about a character named Jenna, a woman who is going through life changes, let’s say. And everything that goes on in her life, she really uses pie and her ingredients to tell her story, so the pie is, in essence, a separate character in this show,” said Stacy Donnelly, a baker and pie consultant with the touring production.
“Waitress” (credit DCPA)
Donnelly not only consults on pies, but she makes small jars of pie to tickle the taste buds of the audience.
“We sell these at concession, so that anybody and everybody can have pie when they come to the show,” Donnelly explained.
While she’s been transporting these pies from her bakery in New York to where ever the play is showing. While playing in Denver, she’ll supply and consult with a local bakery, so we won’t be left out in the pie-making cold. And some of the pies are quite unusual.
“Waitress” (credit DCPA)
“Actually, the one pie that we say all the time is ‘Betray by My Eggs’ pie. It has beets, and eggs, and sausage, and things that you would not normally think would come together, but actually tastes like a great frittata,” Donnelly said.
“What is your favorite pie in real life?” Moody asked Donnelly.
“It’s Oreo pie,” Donnelly replied with a laugh. “I’m a kid at heart.”