American Repertory Theatre to open new musical, “Waitress” this summer

Although not confirmed, word is that Jessie Mueller will play the titular character in Waitress. She earned the Best Actress Tony for the starring role in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

Although not confirmed, word is that Jessie Mueller will play the titular character in Waitress. She was part of a New York workshop of the musical recently along which also featured Tony winner Keala Settle, Bryce Pinkham, Christopher Fitzgerald, Barrett Wilbert Weed and Eric Anderson. Mueller earned the Best Actress Tony for the starring role in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University, led by Artistic Director Diane Paulus, announces the world premiere of Waitress. Opening A.R.T.’s 2015-16 Season, this new musical will be directed by Diane Paulus and feature book by Jessie Nelson and music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles. The production will begin performances at the Loeb Drama Center on Saturday, August 1, 2015. Additional creative team and casting will be confirmed at a later date.

Sara Bareilles, Christopher Fitzgerald and Jessie Mueller at New York workshop. Photo by BWW's  Jimmy Ryan.

Sara Bareilles, Christopher Fitzgerald and Jessie Mueller at New York workshop. Photo by BWW’s Jimmy Ryan.

Based upon the 2007 indie dramedy Waitress, which starred Keri Russell and was written by Adrienne Shelly, the new musical follows the story of Jenna, an inventive waitress trapped in a small-town diner and a loveless marriage. Pregnant and lonely, Jenna finds relief in making creatively-titled pies — and in a budding romance with an unlikely newcomer.

Jessie Nelson wrote, directed, and produced Corrina Corrina with Whoopi Golberg and I Am Sam with Sean Penn, who received an academy award nomination for his performance. She co-wrote Step Mom and The Story of Us, and produced Fred Claus. This past year she produced Danny Collin with Al Pacino. Currently, she is directing Let It Snow withJohn Goodman and Diane Keaton. Ms. Nelson began her career in the theater working with Mabou Mines. She is in the process of writing a musical version of Corrina Corrina for Audra McDonald, with Alan Menken and Brian Yorkey. She is co-writing Alice By Heart with Steven Sater, music by Duncan Sheik.

This is the first stab at a musical for Sara Bareilles who first achieved mainstream critical praise in 2007 with her widely successful hit, “Love Song” which reached #1 in 22 countries around the world from her debut album LITTLE VOICE. Since then, the Eureka, CA native has gone on to sell over 1 million copies of her debut album, earn 3 Grammy nominations including Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Love Song.”

Bareilles’ critically acclaimed sophomore release KALEIDOSCOPE HEART was released in September of 2010, debuted at #1 on the Billboard top 200 chart and has gained critical praise everywhere including the New York Times,Wall Street Journal, People and Los Angeles Times. The album yielded the hit single “King of Anything,” which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and was certified platinum by the RIAA. In 2011, Bareilles joined the judge’s panel on the hit NBC show “The Sing-Off.” Sara’s third studio effort, THE BLESSED UNREST, released in July of 2013 and debuted at #2 on the Billboard album chart. The album has since gone on to achieve critical praise and earned Sara two Grammy Award nominations for “Album of the Year” and “Best Pop Solo Performance” for her smash breakout single “Brave.”

Diane Paulus is the Artistic Director of the A.R.T. at Harvard University and was selected for the 2014 TIME 100, TIME Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Paulus is the 2013 recipient of the Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical (Pippin).

At the A.R.T.: Crossing, a world premiere opera by Matthew Aucoin (upcoming); Finding Neverland, with music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, book by James Graham, and choreography by Mia Michaels (on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre beginning March 2015); Witness Uganda, recipient of the 2012 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater by co-creators Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews; Pippin, by composer Stephen Schwartz and Roger O. Hirson (Tony Award-winner for Best Revival of a Musical, currently on national tour); The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, adapted by Suzan Lori-Parks and Deidre Murray (2012 Tony Award-winner for Best Revival of a Musical); Prometheus Bound, a new musical inspired by Aeschylus’s ancient Greek tragedy, written by Tony Award-winner Steven Sater (Spring Awakening) with music composed by Grammy Award-winner Serj Tankian; Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera, finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music; The Donkey Show, a disco adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Best of Both Worlds, a soulful re-envisioning of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale with book and lyrics by Randy Weiner and music by Diedre Murray; Johnny Baseball, a musical about the Red Sox created by Robert Reale, Willie Reale, and Richard Dresser.

Her other recent work includes serving as Co-Creative Director of the New York Spring Spectacular, which stars the legendary Rockettes and premieres at Radio City Music Hall in March 2015; Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna, currently on a world tour; The Public Theater’s Tony Award-winning revival of HAIR on Broadway and in London’s West End.

As an opera director, her credits include The Magic Flute, Il mondo della luna, DonGiovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, and the Monteverdi trilogy L’incoronazione di Poppea, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, and Orfeo. Diane is a Professor of the Practice in Theater in Harvard University’s English Department. She was named one of Boston Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Bostonians” in 2012 and was awarded the 2012 Founders Award for Excellence in Directing from the Drama League.

Diane was also selected as one of Variety’s “Trailblazing Women in Entertainment for 2014” and Boston Magazine’s “50 Thought Leaders of 2014” and was named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in New York” by the New York Daily News.

Tickets for Waitress can be obtained through subscriptions, which will not be available for sale until spring 2015.

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