Desi Oakley had never baked a pie in her life before joining the cast of "Waitress." But now she sets out to bake award-winning pies on stage each night -- and she couldn't be happier bringing the show, her rolling pin and pies to the Boston Opera House from Feb. 20-March 4.
"I had never baked a pie before," said Oakley, who plays Jenna, the lead. "So when I was cast, my mom flew in to New York from Kansas and taught me how to make my grandmother's cherry pie. It was very sweet, and as Jenna says that she has some of her mother in her pies, I feel like I have some of my mother in the pies I put together on stage every night."
Inspired by Adrienne Shelly's beloved film, "Waitress" tells Jenna's story. She's a waitress and expert pie maker who dreams her way out of her small town and a loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town's new doctor offer her a chance for a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.
Oakley loves playing Jenna.
"She's a kind person, and no matter her life's circumstances, she's good down to her bones," she said. "She's beautiful but she doesn't know it, and she doesn't have the capacity to face her reality."
The entire show is special, said Oakley, who has credits in "Wicked," "Les Miserables" and "Annie."
"Our show is about small-town USA, something that people can relate to since all the people in it are so real," she said. "And Jenna is like the girl next door. It gets people up on their feet each night."
And, yes, now she can bake a pie that's pretty good.
"We do prepare the pies on stage -- and my hands get messy. But I love every minute of it," said Oakley.
Nancye Tuttle's email address is email@example.com.
On the marquee
FEBRUARY FUN: Join Boston Children's Theatre for a bit of fun with its new production of "Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat," on stage Feb. 10-25 at Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, Tremont Street in Boston's South End. Based on the popular kids book, the play was originally produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain. It features, of course, the rambunctious Cat in the Hat, who busts the boredom of a rainy afternoon with all things zany, including the iconic, acrobatic Thing One and Thing Two. The show runs 45 minutes with no intermission and is perfect for young audiences. Visit www.bostonchildrenstheatre.org for tickets and info.
REAL 'GAME OF THRONES': Continuing its season, dubbed "Downfall of the Despots," Actors Shakespeare Project kicks off 2018 with "Richard III," William Shakespeare's stunning portrait of Machiavellian genius and the murderous quest for absolute power. The original "Game of Thrones" comes alive in an intimate staging at the Swedenborg Chapel, 50 Quincy St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, Feb. 10-March 11. Robert Walsh, who has numerous credits in past seasons at the MRT and is an ASP Resident Acting Company member, directs a cast that includes Steven Barkhimer, Jennie Israel, Paula Plum, Mara Sidmore, Michael Forden Walker and Deaon Griffin-Pressley, all playing multiple roles. Tickets $25-$55 at www.actorsshakespeareproject.org or call 866-811-4111.
MUSICAL MOMENTS: Littleton-based Indian Hill Music features a number of music-filled events in the coming days. On Saturday, Feb. 10, at 6:30 p.m., enjoy a free demo-performance of Cantori Scolari, IHM's youth choir, at its headquarters at 36 King St. Learn about the program, meet the director, ask questions and register ... Four Boston Symphony Orchestra cellists -- Blaise Dejardin, Adam Esbensen, Mihail Jojatu and Alexandre Lecarme -- perform their arrangements of contemporary works on Sunday, Feb. 11, at 3 p.m. at the Kalliroscope Gallery, 264 Main St., Groton. The cost of $35 includes a post-concert wine-and-cheese reception with the musicians. ... A free "Bach's Lunch" concert on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., at IHM's King Street headquarters features cabaret tunes with vocalist Mary Crowe and pianist Evelyn Harris. Complimentary coffee, tea and cookies; bring your lunch. For info on these and other programs and to make reservations, visit www.indianhillmusic.org or call 978-486-9524.
JERRY AND ANN: A nice feature article on Jerry Bisantz and Ann Garvin, founders and co-producers of Lowell-based Image Theater, is featured in the current issue of Boston Voyager Magazine. View it online at http://bostonvoyager.com/interview/meet-ann-garvin-jerry-bisantz-image-theater-lowell-ma.