Jennifer Nettles Joining Broadway's Waitress : 'It Is an Absolute Dream'

·3-min read
Jennifer Nettles
Jennifer Nettles

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Jennifer Nettles

Jennifer Nettles is going back to Broadway!

The Grammy-winning country superstar will tread the boards again this fall, stepping into the lead role of Jenna in Sara Bareilles' acclaimed musical, Waitress.

"It is an absolute dream," Nettles tells PEOPLE exclusively. "There are so many layers to Waitress that make it so meaningful to me. It is heart-warming, heart-breaking at times, and absolutely heart-inspiring. I'm thrilled to be able to finally get to wear the apron."

"I hope everyone will come check it out, because I know I will be having a grand time," she adds.

Nettles, 47, will begin performances on Oct. 19, and play the role through Nov. 24.

Bareilles — who composed the score to the musical, and is currently starring in the show — will play her final performance on Oct. 17.

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sara bareilles
sara bareilles

Walter McBride/Getty

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Waitress is back on Broadway for a limited engagement now through Jan. 9, 2022 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

The role of Jenna was made famous by Keri Russell in Adrienne Shelly's 2007 movie of the same name, about a waitress in a small town who enters a pie contest in hopes of using the prize money to escape her unhappy marriage.

On Broadway, the part has been played by Tony winner Jessie Mueller (who originated the role), as well as stars like Katharine McPhee, Jordin Sparks, Nicolette Robinson, Shoshana Bean, Betsy Wolfe and more.

For Nettles, stepping into Jenna's shoes is a long time coming.

"Sara is my dear friend of mine and when Waitress first came out, I was so excited for her. Loved the project, loved the show, loved the material and wanted to be able to be a part of this beautiful legacy that my friend had created. But we were just never able to make it work in terms of timing," Nettles explains. "So to be able to now be a part of it, and this beautiful celebration of Broadway's reopening? It's just like, the stars have aligned. The right thing happens at the right time."

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The move also comes on the heels of Always Like New, Nettles' latest solo album, which features the Sugarland singer covering songs from some of Broadway's biggest shows.

"My love of musical theater and this Broadway community is no secret, and hasn't been for years," says Nettles, who previously starred in Chicago back in 2015. "The last note that I sang for recording Always Like New actually happened to be on March 12, 2020, the day of the Broadway shutdown. I walked out of the vocal booth and all of our phones lit up and said that Broadway was officially closing. It was like, 'What is going on?' So being able to put this album out to celebrate this beautiful community, and then to get this telephone call on top of it? It's checking all the boxes."

The only thing Nettles hasn't done yet? Had a slice of pie to celebrate.

"I haven't yet, but I should," Nettles says, with a laugh. "I need to get myself a piece of "Back on Broadway Baby Pie!' "

For tickets to Waitress, visit waitressthemusical.com.

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