Kelly Clarkson took a trip to Broadway on Friday (Jan. 7). But with the majority of theaters shuttered due to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19, she had to make do with a moving cover of the Waitress ballad “She Used to Be Mine.” The latest Kellyoke cover on the singer’s syndicated daily talk show included a cameo from Ciara Renee, who was the last actress to play the lead role of Jenna — stepping in for Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles.
Waitress ran for more than 1,500 performances on Broadway before closing in January 2020 and then rebooting for a limited engagement in Sept. 2021 as the first show to come back following the widespread COVID-19 shutdown of Broadway; it wrapped up two weeks earlier than expected on Dec. 22, 2021 due to the resurgent spike in COVID cases.
Just two weeks before, though, the official Waitress Twitter account made a special request: “RT if you think @KellyClarksonTV & @kellyclarkson should do a Waitress #Kellyoke of ‘She Used To Be Mine’ before the end of our Broadway run.” On Friday, the show re-tweeted the ask along with a video of Clarkson’s performance and the message to the show’s musical and lyrical mastermind, singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles, “Anything for @SaraBareilles @WaitressMusical,” read the note, along with blue heart and pie emoji.
Kelly made their dreams come true with the hushed piano and vocal cover, with a pair of dancers swooning around the lunch counter while bathed in blue light as Clarkson belted, “And you’re not what I asked for/ If I’m honest I know, I would give it all back/ For a chance to start over/ And rewrite an ending or two/ For the girl that I knew/ Who’ll be reckless just enough/ Who’ll get hurt but/ Who learns how to toughen up when she’s bruised.”
Clarkson also invited Renee — who had an earlier run in Waitress before her return — to chat via Zoom about the song and her time playing Jenna. “I’m so honored that y’all wanted me to sing… First of all, I love that song, it’s so beautiful, so empowering to sing, it feels like a guttural moment every time you sing it,” Kelly told Renee, who said it’s been “wild and strange and beautiful” to reprise the title role in the show.
Renee added that like everyone in the Broadway community she really missed performing during the year-plus COVID shutdown, which is why coming back to the show she loves so much was a “dream come true.”
Watch Clarkson sing “She Used to Be Mine” below.