The Tony-nominated musical "Waitress" is performing at the Hanover Theater at 2 Southbridge St., Worcester, through Sunday, May 26. Based on the 2007 film of the same name, "Waitress" is the story of Jenna Hunterson, a small-town waitress with a flair for baking and pie-in-the-sky dreams. Wanting out of her crumbling marriage and a chance to stand on her own, Jenna jumps at the prospect of a baking contest in a nearby county ... and has a chance encounter with a charming doctor.
"'Waitress' is a show that embodies female empowerment," says Jeremy Morse, who plays Ogie Anhorn in the show. "It is a show that will make you laugh and cry, and it is incredibly entertaining. There are songs for everyone."
Ogie is a regular customer at the diner where Jenna works with her friends, Becky and Dawn. Anhorn is determined to prove to Dawn that he is the right man for her, and his love knows no limitations.
"Ogie is a lovable, eccentric goofball with a big heart," Morse says. "Much like myself, Ogie thrives on organization and doesn't mind fooling around."
A Pennsylvania native, Morse began his acting career at a relatively young age. All throughout middle school and high school, he was a proud member of the school choir and brought his love for singing to the drama club. Thus, a new passion was born.
"I love acting," Morse says. "I love doing it for the community of people I get to work with. I've met some of my best friends through acting, and we've stayed firm friends for a long time because of it."
Morse's previous credits include such off-Broadway roles as the title role in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" and J. Pierrepont Finch in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."
But "Waitress," he says, is something completely different.
"Prior to 'Waitress,' I had never done a commercial show before," Morse says. "It was my manager who told me about the show and the role of Ogie. I had only two weeks to prepare for my audition, which was actually in front of the creators of the show" — Sara Bareilles, music and lyrics; Jessie Nelson, book; and Diane Paulus, director.
Morse needn't have worried — he landed the audition right away and found himself on his first national tour. He describes it as an exciting experience and has enjoyed seeing all corners of the country. He remembers opening night quite vividly.
"We opened in Cleveland, Ohio, and it was very exciting," Morse says. "The whole creative team was there, along with my family and fiancee. After the show, we had an opening-night dinner party. Bareilles gave me a bow tie, much like the one Ogie wears in the show!"
"Waitress" the musical and "Waitress" the movie never would have existed without the creative mind of the late Adrienne Shelly. She is honored through her creative works as well as through The Adrienne Shelly Foundation, an organization helping to achieve the dreams of women filmmakers worldwide.
When Shelly became a first-time mother, she worried she'd have to put her writing career on hold. But just like her protagonist, Jenna, she realized she could have it all, any way she wanted.
"'Waitress' is a solid feminist musical," Morse says. "It is a true example of girl power."
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