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Pop Star Sara Bareilles' 'Waitress' Launches Broadway Tour in Cleveland

'Waitress' Original Broadway Cast [photo: Joan Marcus]

Playhouse Square kicks off its new Broadway season this week with the music of a pop star. 

Sara Bareilles

When she took over the composing duties for a musical based on a movie, Sara Bareilles was a known commodity on the American Top 40, but a novice when it came to musical theater.  Nevertheless her show "Waitress" was a bonafide Broadway hit last year and now it launches its national tour here in Cleveland. 

Bareilles loved musical theater growing up in California but her pop career took her in a different direction with hit songs like "Love Song" (2007) and "Brave" (2013).

"My pop career emerged and I took a left turn that I wasn't expecting.  Now I took another left turn back to where I started from and it's been such an amazing homecoming," Bareilles said.

When Tony-award-winning director Diane Paulus was looking for a composer to help her transform the indie film "Waitress" (2007) into a Broadway musical she searched for a songwriter with a similar independent spirit. Bareilles was at the top of the list.

"Lucky for us she was at a moment in her career that she was interested in theater.  She loves musical theater, she can sing more Broadway show tunes than I can. She's got them in her brain, like the whole opening to "The Beauty and the Beast" she can sing by heart," Paulus said.

Diane Paulus

Telling the story of a down and out waitress named Jenna who bakes delicious pies on the side, "Waitress" is a small-town love story.  But it's a big-time Broadway production now and it's breaking boundaries with an all-female production team, including book writer Jessie Nelson, choreographer Lorin Latarro in addition to Bareilles and Paulus.

"All these women are in these roles because they are the best person for the job.  Because guess what, there are women at the top of their field in all of these areas," Paulus.

Waitressis onstage at Playhouse Square's Connor Palace through Sunday, November 5.

Listen to Diane Paulus interview:



Dave DeOreo is coordinating producer for Ideastream Public Media’s arts and culture team.