As I’m sure you may know by now, Ben and I love the musical Waitress. We went to see the show back in November 2019. At the time, Lucie Jones was playing Jenna on the West End. Her vocal abilities and acting talent just amazed us. Meanwhile, the story, set and soundtrack was brilliantly clever and gripped us entirely.
We’re certain that we want to see the musical again as soon as we can, even though this sadly won’t be at the Adelphi Theatre. It was announced earlier this year that the show will not be reopening once the theatres themselves reopen on the West End after the Coronavirus lockdown rules are lifted. The show was due to close on 4th July.
However, the musical is still very much up and running. The musical will instead be heading on an exciting, extensive UK national tour, before returning to the West End again.
When Did Waitress Open On The West End?
Despite Waitress being in its infant years in comparison to some much longer-running musicals, Waitress has certainly earned its place on the West End.
The musical officially opened on the West End last year, on the 6th March. This was three years after it opened on Broadway, in 2016.
What Is Waitress About?
Without any spoilers, Waitress is essentially about a Waitress working in a diner, who’s passion lies in baking. She lives with an abusive husband with whom she falls pregnant, making her realise that she wants more from life than her miserable marriage is already giving her. So, she wanders into the path of her gynaecologist. With problems along her journey, she turns to her waitress girlfriends for much-needed support while they follow their own journeys through the world of romance. Does she escape her marriage and find the happiness she’s been longing for, even with her baby on the way?
Who Has Played Jenna On The West End?
Katherine McPhee Foster
The first actress to take the role of Jenna onto the West End was Katherine McPhee Foster. However, this wasn’t her first time playing the role of the Waitress, as Katherine had previously performed as Jenna on Broadway back in 2018.
If you recognise McPhee Foster elsewhere, she was runner-up on the talent show American Idol, and appeared in the the musical drama ‘Smash‘, alongside other Broadway stars such as, Megan Hilty, Christian Borle and Jeremy Jordon.
McPhee performed as Jenna on the West End from the February show preview until June when Lucie took over.
Later last year, Katherine rejoined the Broadway production and remained in the show until its final Broadway performance on January 5th this year.
The longest reigning Jenna on the West End so far is Lucie Jones. If you’re unfamiliar with the name in musical theatre, Jones has also been a representative of the UK at Eurovision, back in 2017. On top of this, her name first appeared in shining lights back in 2009, when she took part in The X Factor, getting through to the live shows, at just 18-years-old.
All that said, I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of Lucie Jones’ name much more recently. She’s performed in a range of musicals here in the UK, including ‘Legally Blonde’, where Lucie played the role of Elle, ‘Rent’ as Maureen and Holly in ‘The Wedding Singer’ among other roles.
Jones took the role of Jenna on from Foster. She debuted the role at the Adelphi Theatre on 16th May 2019, before taking over indefinitely in June 2019.
For a two week period in January, Desi Oakley performed as Jenna on the West End. This was as a result of Lucie Jones and the two understudies: Sarah O’Connor and Olivia Moore all being taken ill. In an emergency, Desi was flown from the U.S. to the U.K. to perform.
Oakley isn’t a stranger to the role, though. She played Jenna in the original U.S. tour cast, so she had the advantage few others had. She knew both Jenna’s role and the show particularly well, and definitely the raised the roof off the Adelphi Theatre.
The last person to play the role of Jenna on the West End. Sara Bareilles is even more than a West End actress too, though. She is also responsible for the music and lyrics of the show. You may have heard of her in the pop world too, for songs such as “Love Song” and “Brave”.
Sara performed as Jenna on Broadway, first alongside Jason Mraz, and then alongside Gavin Creel for a 4-week run in January 2019. She reunited with the role and Creel when she once again played Jenna (and Creel played Dr. Pomatter), this time at the Adelphi Theatre. This time the run was set to last 8 weeks, however due to COVID-19 restrictions, the lights went down on West End theatres on 14th March. Gavin and Sara both flew back to the U.S. after their last performance, and it was later revealed that Sara Bareilles had actually caught COVID-19, however, she has now thankfully fully recovered.