Waitress (also known as Waitress, The Musical – Live on Broadway!) is a 2023 American musical comedy-drama film consisting of a live stage recording of Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson’s 2015 musical of the same name, based on the 2007 film of the same name written by Adrienne Shelly.
The film was produced in the fall of 2021 during its limited run at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City, as part of the efforts to slowly reopen Broadway in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with this being the first musical to begin performances near the end of the shutdown. The film features the cast of this remounting, which includes Bareilles (who also serves as a producer), Charity Angél Dawson, Caitlin Houlahan, Drew Gehling, Dakin Matthews, Eric Anderson, Joe Tippett and Christopher Fitzgerald. Diane Paulus returned to direct the production, with Brett Sullivan and Nelson directing the live filming.
It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 12, 2023 and is scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States on December 7, 2023 by Bleecker Street and Fathom Events.
- Sara Bareilles as Jenna Hunterson, a waitress and expert pie baker at Joe’s Diner in the American South who imagines tough situations as pie ingredients and wishes for a better life.
- Drew Gehling as Dr. James “Jim” Pomatter, Jenna’s new gynecologist who loves her baking and has an affair with Jenna.
- Charity Angél Dawson as Becky, Jenna’s friend and coworker who is unashamed of giving in to her passions.
- Caitlin Houlahan as Dawn Pinkett, Jenna’s friend and coworker who is terrified of the possibilities of dating.
- Dakin Matthews as Old Joe, the curmudgeonly owner of Joe’s Diner who gives Jenna advice.
- Christopher Fitzgerald as Ogie Anhorn, a customer of Joe’s Diner who goes on a date with Dawn and later marries her.
- Joe Tippett as Earl Hunterson, Jenna’s abusive husband.
- Eric Anderson as Cal, the manager of Joe’s Diner.
- Anastacia McCleskey as Nurse Norma, Dr. Pomatter’s assistant.
- Stephanie Torns as Francine Pomatter, Dr. Pomatter’s wife and a resident at the hospital.
- Molly Jobe as Jenna’s Mother, who appears in a vision during “What Baking Can Do”.
- Matt Deangelis as Jenna’s Father, who also appears in a vision during “What Baking Can Do”.
Hattie Cecelia Tutalo and Nora Lincoln Weiner alternated in the role of Lulu in the Broadway production but it is unknown which of them will appear in the film.
McCleskey, Torns, Jobe, Deangelis, Henry Gottfried, Max Kumangai, Tyrone Davis Jr, Andrew Fitch, and Emily Koch also appear as ensemble members.
Following the closure of the original Broadway production on January 5, 2020 at the Brooks Atkinson Theater (now the Lena Horne Theater), the theater district was shutdown for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, producer Barry Weissler announced that a remount of the original production, starring Bareilles, would open following the reopening of Broadway theatres. The show returned in a limited engagement on September 2, 2021 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, making it the first musical on Broadway to begin performances following the COVID-19 shutdown. The primary reason for its return was to record the production for a future public release, with STEAM Motion and Sound producing the film. Several returning cast members star in the production, including Bareilles as Jenna, Gehling as Dr. Pomatter, Tippett as Earl, Dawson as Becky, Houlahan as Dawn, Matthews as Joe, Fitzgerald as Ogie, and Anderson as Cal. The run concluded on December 22, 2021, two weeks earlier than planned due to a spike of COVID-19. The film entered post-production the following year and was completed in early 2023.
The film premiered in the Spotlight+ section of the Tribeca Film Festival on June 12, 2023, followed by a special post-screening musical performance by Bareilles. Simultaneously, it also broadcast with sound through the TSX app onto TSX Entertainment’s 18,000-square-foot digital screen overlooking Times Square, including the broadcast of an introduction by Bareilles. In September 2023, Bleecker Street acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film, partnering with Fathom Events for its theatrical release, and scheduled it for release on December 7, 2023.
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