Nominated in 2016 for four Tony Awards, including best musical and best original score, Waitress is still going strong, with Broadway favorite Betsy Wolfe in the lead role of Jenna, a diner waitress with a talent for pie-baking who’s trapped in an unhappy and abusive marriage. On the eve of the show’s national tour kickoff, Bareilles, Wolfe and star Will Swenson (who plays Earl, Jenna’s husband) stopped by the Billboard on Broadway podcast to discuss what makes the show, and Bareilles’ music, so beloved.
“It feels like it’s evolving — the show is an organism that continues to have a life,” Bareilles says. “I love that the characters get to live and breathe as they’re inhabited by other people.” “The fun of a show that’s long-running is that you get to see the roles in the hands of different people, and because everyone is so different as a person, everybody brings their own strengths and ideas to the table,” Swenson adds. “It’s so fun to watch those dynamics interplay and become differen…something that might ring as a certain idea with one cast could be completely different with another.”
Bareilles has long been a favorite among Broadway’s performers, and Swenson and Wolfe delve into why her music so resonates within the musical theater community. “Sara writes from a heart-open, honest and vulnerable place,” Swenson says. “She’s a great storyteller in her music, but also super honest.” Listening to Waitress’s score, “It’s so clear that she really knew what she was doing,” Wolfe adds.
In their discussion with host Rebecca Milzoff, the trio go on to discuss the story’s timeliness, how Wolfe and Swenson were cast, and Bareilles’ relationship to her work in the pop vs. theater spheres.