All-female creative team debuts on Broadway

By: Caitlin Moynihan, Columnist

The highly anticipated new musical, “Waitress,” with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles opened up for previews on Broadway in the Brooks Atkinson Theatre March 25.

While the musical has been praised for its fun, poppy lyrics a la Bareilles, what I find to be most exciting is that the show has a completely all-female creative team. There is a good chance that most of you have never heard of this musical or don’t have any interest in live theater, but this is one show you should pay attention to.

Not only did Bareilles release the music from the show as a personal pop album with her singing to generate interest, but it is also playing a huge role in promoting equality on Broadway.

Broadway has been around for a long time, like a really long time. The two oldest running theaters, The Lyceum and New Amsterdam, are an astounding 113 years.

That being said, there have been hundreds and hundreds of shows that have come to life on stage, and “Waitress” is only the second show since 1975 to have an all-female creative team, according to the Playbill Vault.

The director, Diane Paulus, is a Broadway veteran who has stood as the only female director for a current show on Broadway for the third time in four years and the second year in a row. At last year’s Tony Awards, we saw the most women nominees and winners than we have ever seen. While that was encouraging and empowering, it was not representative to what is actually happening on the Great White Way.

If you look at the past 41 seasons of Broadway musicals, about one in ten directors, authors or composers and one in four choreographers have been female. That is compared to 52 percent, 255 musicals, of men holding all four top creative roles. That is some serious misrepresentation.

Screenwriter Jessie Nelson’s original script was intended for the screen, but after it was given to an all-male team, it was re-worked and re-written and never made into a movie. When her agents discovered her work was being considered for theater, Nelson pitched her ideas and took back control.

It wasn’t planned to have an all-female creative team, it happened organically, and I think that’s why it is so special and exciting. As a woman who loves all things theater, it is so encouraging to see improvement in the industry and that women are working behind the scenes as much as they are being seen on stage.

Congrats to the whole company of “Waitress,” I can’t wait to read all the good news after opening night on April 24. If you have the ability, I highly encourage you to take the trip to see it in person.

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