Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman in the National Tour of WAITRESS (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Broadway in Fort Lauderdale is thrilled to announce Waitress will play The Broward Center for the Performing Arts for a limited, two-week engagement April 11–22.

Brought to life by a groundbreaking,  all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam), choreography by Lorin Latarro (Les Dangereuse Liasons, Waiting For Godot) and direction by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin, Finding Neverland).

Inspired by Adrienne Shellys beloved film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker, who dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the towns new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.

The Tony-nominated musical Waitress, has cast two young area actresses to take on the role of “Lulu” during the Fort Lauderdale engagement: Autumn Rae Sanchez, 4, of Miami, and Quinn Eden Titcomb, 5, of Fort Lauderdale will alternate the role of “Lulu,” the daughter of the production’s main character, Jenna.

Both girls were chosen via an audition process held at the Broward Center on March 6. More than 50 girls participated in the auditions, which were presided over by a member of the Waitress Company. The character of “Lulu” is cast locally in each tour market and two girls are chosen to share the role.  Each five-year-old girl chosen will perform in four performances during the engagement.

“It’s an empowering musical of the highest order!” raves the Chicago Tribune.  Waitress is a little slice of heaven!” says Entertainment Weekly and “a monumental contribution to Broadway!” according to Marie Claire.  Don’t miss this uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie.

It was a pleasure to sit down with Desi Oakley, who plays Jenna, for this exclusive Hotspots interview.

Desi Oakley

Were you always a performer, even as a child, or when did it start?

Yes, I’ve been performing since I was 8 years old. It was more of an extracurricular activity. It didn’t become a care in my mind until I was in high school.

What was your first professional gig?

I’ve been paid professionally since I was 14. I was an ensemble member of an Equity house [a theater that only hires members of Actors Equity Association, the stage actors union] called Music Theatre of Wichita. That theater gave me my Equity card.

When did you know singing and performing would be your career?

When I was 16, I was cast at my first lead, and that’s when I saw the doors starting to open. I realized I could really make a career out of performing-me, a girl out of Kansas.

How did you get cast in Waitress?

I’ve been with my agent since I moved to New York seven years ago, and they provided me with the opportunity to audition for many shows. I’ve been lucky enough to have steady work since then, and they got me the audition for Waitress.   

WATCH:

Of course, I have to ask: Have you ever waitressed and/or baked a pie?

I have never waitressed, so it’s new for me. As soon as I won this role, my mom flew to New York and taught me how to bake a pie, my grandmother’s cherry pie. I really enjoy baking, but my forte is cookies.

Other than this show, what has been your favorite role?

I did a lot of understudying, so I played a lot of iconic roles: Evita, Elphaba, Fantine etc. They are all so amazing, it’s hard to choose but I am a Disney girl at heart, so I have to say Ariel in The Little Mermaid, because she changes the audience’s life.

What is your dream role?

I want to play Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie. I love that role and the character. I am dying to play her.

What should our readers expect from the touring company of Waitress?

This production is so special, I feel there’s something in it for everyone. The story surprises people: While it is lighthearted and fun, it also makes audiences introspective. It touches them because it’s so real! It’s a very human story, a piece of theater the world needs to hear and witness right now. And there’s pie! So, what else could you ask for?

For more on Desi: Desioakley.com or go to her Instagram page: desioakley.

Tickets for Waitress, which start at $40.25, are available at the Broward Center AutoNation Box Office, (201 SW Fifth Avenue, Fort Lauderdale), on the website: browardcenter.org or  by calling 954-462-0222.