LiLiCo, Mitsuki Takahata & Emma Miyazawa in “Waitress”
(Photo courtesy of Waitress Japan)
The 2016 Tony-nominated musical Waitress premiered at Japan’s Nissay Theatre on March 9, making it the first production of the show to open since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down theaters worldwide.
Based on the 2007 film by the late Adrienne Shelly, the Sara Bareilles-scored musical features a book by Jessie Nelson, with direction by Diane Paulus, choreography by Lorin Latarro and music direction by Nadia DiGiallonardo.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions on travel and other logistics, some members of the show’s creative team went to Japan and quarantined before rehearsals began. Other designers and technicians had to work remotely from thousands of miles away. The associate director oversaw rehearsals with a video link to London. Lighting, sound and production supervision for technical rehearsals was run out of New York City.
“We are so grateful to the international effort of this incredible team, scattered across the globe, navigating multiple time zones and technological platforms, who in the face of unprecedented challenges in an ongoing global pandemic has managed to still find the way,” producer Barry Weissler said in a statement.
The Japanese cast of Waitress is led by Mitsuki Takahata as Jenna, Mamoru Miyano as Dr. Pomatter, Emma Miyazawa as Dawn and LiLiCo and Rinko Urashima alternating in the role of Becky.
Waitress opened on Broadway on April 24, 2016 and earned Tony nominations for Best Musical, for Bareilles’ score and for Jessie Mueller and Christopher Fitzgerald’s performances. The show’s London run closed early on March 15, 2020 due to COVID-19.