How sweet it is! 'Waitress' sure to delight during Pittsburgh run
Actor and opera singer David Hughey, who grew up in Brighton Heights and attended Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts school, is back in town with the national tour of “Waitress,” the Broadway musical about an expert pie baker named Jenna (Desi Oakley) who works in a local diner and is unhappy in her marriage.
“Waitress,” which is the stage adaptation of the 2007 film, is part of the 2017-18 PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series.
Hughey, who graduated from Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and now makes his home in New York City, explains the title character's occupation as only a Pittsburgher can:
“She works at Eat ‘n Park, really,” he says with a laugh on a call from Boston, where the company was performing before heading to Pittsburgh.
Hughey is a swing/understudy for two of the show's leads, Joe and Cal, and has already been called on to fill in for performers on the tour.
“The first time was opening night in Des Moines, Iowa,” he recalls. “I found out when I was walking into the theater.”
He made his Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning revival of “Porgy and Bess” and has sung in major opera houses in the U.S. and abroad.
Hughey isn't the only performer with Pittsburgh ties in the show playing March 6-11 at Benedum Center. Two Carnegie Mellon University graduates, Arica Jackson and Emily Koch, also are in the musical's ensemble.
Get to know ‘Waitress'
• The show was nominated for four 2017 Tony Awards, including best musical.
• “Waitress” was listed by Traveller as one of the top five “must-see” Broadway musicals, which also named megahits “Wicked,” “Hamilton,” “Dear Evan Hansen” and “The Lion King” on the list.
• “Waitress” is distinguished as having the first all-female creative team on Broadway, which includes original music and lyrics by six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles and direction by Tony Award-winner Diane Paulus. “I brought together people who I thought were the best for the job. Guess what? They're all women,” Paulus said. “This is a musical that celebrates it's never too late to seize that dream and pursue your fullest self.”
• An official pie consultant was brought on board for the Broadway musical, according to People magazine, to create 21 original pie recipes for the show about a waitress with a talent for baking pies.
• Ainsley Christof, 4, of Pittsburgh, and Camlyn Reace, 5, of Gibsonia will alternate the role of Jenna's daughter Lulu during the Pittsburgh performances. They were selected from 60 girls who tried out for the part in one of the special auditions being held in each city on the tour.
• Before she was cast as Jenna in “Waitress,” Desi Oakley starred as Eva Peron on the first national tour of the revival of “Evita!” in 2013 and made her television debut in “Gotham” in 2015. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2011 with a bachelor of fine arts in musical theater.
• “American Idol” alum Katharine McPhee is set to make her Broadway debut this spring for a limited run as Jenna in “Waitress” beginning April 10, according to People magazine.
• Adrienne Shelly, who wrote the screenplay for the film version of “Waitress,” was killed after she caught a man trying to rob her apartment. To honor the memory of his wife, her husband Andy Ostroy started a foundation to benefit female filmmakers.
• Ticketholders can attend a free Know the Show Before You Go event at 6:30 p.m. March 7 at the Trust Arts Education Center, 807 Liberty Ave. Registration required.
• Educators can take advantage of a special brunch and pre-show talk with cast members at noon March 10 at the Trust Arts Education Center, followed by a 2 p.m. matinee performance for a discounted price.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.