Waitress is “hajimeyo” (or, “opening up”) again—this time in Japan. Check out footage from the first Japanese-language production, which opened March 9 at Tokyo’s Nissay Theatre, above.
This is the first production of the Sara Bareilles-Jessie Nelson musical to open since the global shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the health crisis, several creative team members went to Japan and quarantined before rehearsals began. Others worked remotely from around the world—a technique that has been used with other Japanese productions, including The Phantom of the Opera.
“Over the course of our show’s history, we have often said, ‘where there’s a whisk, there’s a way.’ That motto has never been more true,” said producer Barry Weissler. “Each department has had to reach back in their cupboards to discover new ingredients, not long-forgotten, but ones we never knew we had.”
The Japanese cast of Waitress is led by Mitsuki Takahata as Jenna with Mamoru Miyano as Dr. Pomatter, Emma Miyazawa as Dawn, and LiLiCo and Rinko Urashima alternating in the role of Becky. The musical will continue to play in Japan’s capital city through March 30 and then tour around the country with stops at Hakataza Theater in Fukuoka (April 4–11), Umeda Arts Theater in Osaka (April 15-19), and Misonoza in Nagoya (April 29–May 2).
Waitress, directed by Diane Paulus, has music and lyrics by Bareilles, a book by Nelson, and choreography by Lorin Latarro. The musical is presented in Japan by Toho, Fuji TV, and Kyodo Tokyo in association with Barry and Fran Weissler.