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Long a poorly kept secret, the film's existence was finally confirmed by the production on social media in April. Fans had been aware of the project thanks to Bareilles briefly sharing footage of her watching a rough cut of the live stage capture on her Instagram stories. The stage film made its premiere with simultaneous screenings at Tribeca Film Festival and in Times Square earlier this year.
Adapted from the 2007 film and featuring a book by Jessie Nelson and a Tony-nominated score by Bareilles, Waitress was developed and premiered by Massachusetts' American Repertory Theater before debuting on Broadway in 2015, picking up four 2016 Tony nominations, including Best Musical. The work made a Broadway return at the Ethel Barrymore following the COVID-19 shutdown beginning September 2, 2021, sticking around through December 20. Bareilles (Into the Woods, Girls5Eva) first played Jenna as a replacement to original star Jessie Mueller; she ended up headlining two more limited engagements throughout the original run and did a stint in London’s West End prior to the coronavirus shutdown.
The 2021 return run paid tribute to the late Nick Cordero, who originated the role of Earl on Broadway. The board listing Jenna’s cleverly named confections at the diner where she works newly included “A Big Ol Slice of Live Your Life Pie”—a nod to the Cordero song that became an anthem as he battled a severe COVID-19 case. He died in July 2020, at the age of 41.
In the filmed musical, Bareilles is joined by Waitress' complete encore run cast, including Christopher Fitzgerald in his Tony-nominated performance as Ogie, Drew Gehling as Dr. Pomatter, Charity Angél Dawson as Becky, Caitlin Houlahan as Dawn, Eric Anderson as Cal, Dakin Matthews as Joe, and Joe Tippett as Earl. The Broadway encore company was rounded out by Tyrone Davis, Jr., Matt DeAngelis, Andrew Fitch, Henry Gottfried, Molly Jobe, Emily Koch, Max Kumangai, Anastacia McCleskey, Gerianne Pérez, Stephanie Torns, and Nyla Watson.
Waitress, produced by Barry and Fran Weissler alongside Norton and Elayne Herrick, features sets by Scott Pask, costumes by Suttirat Anne Larlarb, lighting by Ken Billington, and sound by Jonathan Deans. Nadia DiGiallonardo serves as music supervisor. Casting is by Telsey + Company's Pat Goodwin.
Diane Paulus directed Waitress for the stage, with Brett Sullivan directing the film capture and Nelson serving as creative advisor. Alecia Parker is executive producer of the screen capture, with Michael Roiff, Barry and Fran Weissler, Bareilles, Nelson, and Paul Morphos serving as producers.