If you recently walked through Times Square and saw a woman in a beanie singing about pie, that may have been Sara Bareilles — though given how much happens in Times Square, it could certainly have been anyone else. In advance of her taking on the lead role in Waitress, Bareilles and the backing band from the show took to the city streets to perform “What Baking Can Do,” her character Jenna’s ode to the calming properties of sugar, butter, and flour.
While Bareilles wrote the songs for Waitress, which is based on the 2007 film starring Keri Russell, this is the first time she’s performed this song publicly, as it didn’t appear on the concept album she released before the show debuted. “The best part about New York is that people are so nonplussed by anything,” she said. Bareilles told Vulture about the reactions from passersby, who gathered in a small crowd and took a few photos, but may not have realized what they were getting to see. “It felt in the spirit of the show,” she said. “It’s a chamber piece. It’s an everyday story. I wanted to feel like we were jumping out into the middle of everything and doing it from the inside out.”
Tonight, Bareilles begins her ten-week Broadway debut, replacing Jessie Mueller, who won a Tony for her work in Beautiful and was nominated for one for Waitress. Bareilles went through the show for the first time top to bottom last night, and in just a few hours, she’ll have her first chance to experience it with an audience. How is she feeling right now? “It’s a lot of different feelings,” Bareilles said. “The baseline feeling is excitement, so that’s good. There’s nerves and anxiety all wrapped up in there, too, but I’m really, really excited.”