Broadway Sandwich: "Waitress"
Follow Broadway's biggest stars during their breaks between matinee and evening performances. Learn the secrets of the on-set food used in “Waitress” from Charity Angél Dawson.
Oh, I used to spend a lot of time
sitting on these little stools.
I almost took you out.
Perfect. Orders up.
Scribner: The lives of Broadway performers are busy.
They only have a few short hours between their matinee
and evening performances,
and they're giving us an inside look,
from grabbing a bite to unwinding,
plus a backstage tour.
Have you ever wanted to see what we do in the time
sandwiched between performances?
Follow along and find out.
This is "Broadway Sandwich."
Today, we're at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre,
home of both the original and revival productions
of "Noises Off," "Rock of Ages,"
and for the last three years, "Waitress."
♪ Heart, keep racing ♪
♪ Let's make mistakes ♪
♪ Let us say, "So what?" ♪
♪ And make worse what was already pretty bad ♪
Scribner: The show tells the story of Jenna,
a waitress and expert pie-maker
who's stuck in a small town and a really bad marriage.
Jenna and her fellow waitresses encourage each other
through life's big moments --
the good, the bad, and everything in between.
"Waitress" is based on the movie written by Adrienne Shelly
and made history by being the first Broadway show
with an all-female creative team.
The show was nominated for four Tony awards,
including Best Musical.
Today, we're meeting up with Charity Angel Dawson,
who plays Becky, a no-nonsense waitress
who's always there to encourage her friends.
Hey, Charity. How are you doing?
Good, how are you? Nice to see you.
You, too. How was your matinee?
It was wonderful, thanks for asking.
Nailed it? Yep! I think so.
All right, so we only have a few hours before we have
to get back here to your second show.
Uh-huh. What's the plan on your break?
Well, first, grab a bite to eat.
I'm starving. Same.
Then maybe do a little shopping for my dressing room.
A little shop-shop? I still haven't fully decorated, so...
Then maybe afterwards we could do a little theater tour?
Yeah, absolutely. I'd love that.
All right. Sounds good.
So, what were you like as a kid?
I was a wallflower.
They used to call me Charity the church mouse
because I was so quiet.
I would sing in church, I grew up in church,
I was terrified of being in front of people.
So, how did you go from church mouse to power house?
I was in high school, I was in my senior year,
and I had been cast in a production
of "The Wiz" playing Evillene. Uh-huh.
And I wanted to be Dorothy, of course.
You know, that's what I was going for, and they said,
"No, we don't have anybody who can do Evillene,
and so we need you to do that."
It started stretching me, I started, you know,
expanding my voice
and learning a bit more about all that I had in me.
So has Broadway stardom always been the dream?
Well, after I graduated high school,
I did a year and a half of community college
just trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do.
I started performing with this troupe,
and they brought us to New York for spring break,
and I saw my first Broadway show,
and I started pursuing it.
What show was that that you saw?
"Thoroughly Modern Millie" with Sutton Foster.
And what was it about seeing that show
that made you feel like you wanted to do that?
Sitting in the audience at this huge theater,
and I was looking at all these people to my left and my right,
and they were all completely enthralled
and invested in what was going on on that stage,
and I didn't it could be done on that scale.
So, when did you first hear about "Waitress"?
When I was doing "Side Show."
Here on Broadway?
Yes, on Broadway. Okay.
Keala Settle, she was doing the workshop of "Waitress,"
and I said, "Please, can I go to the presentation?
I just want to see -- I just need to be
in the same room as Sara Bareilles."
So, it was like a lab happening, or a workshop?
Yes, it was a workshop happening. Okay.
So, I went in, and I did the ensemble stuff,
and I did the Becky stuff, and she said,
"Wow, you have a killer voice."
Mm. Which, I peed a little bit.
But, you know, uh... Yeah.
Just a little bit. I died a little bit.
Just like -- just out.
And I came back a couple days later
for a final callback with all the producers
and the entire creative team, and, uh, got the job.
So, when did you start doing Becky full-time?
I started doing Becky October 20th of 2017, I believe.
And then you went out on the national tour and played Becky?
Mm-hmm. And that's where Sara Bareilles
gave you this beautiful necklace.
Yeah, she gave me this beautiful necklace.
Thanks for the necklace.
And then you came back to Broadway,
where you are now, playing the role.
I love that. Cool story.
Yeah, it's been quite a journey.
I notice when you sing, you really, like,
use your whole body when you sing.
You, like, get rooted, you know, for those big notes.
Yeah, yeah. Is that a part of technique,
or is that just something you feel that comes in?
It's like a spirit that hits you.
Yeah, it's something that I feel that comes in.
I feel like it's only when it's, like, in a really emphatic thing
where I'm really trying to drive the point home
that I'll stop and, like, really dig deep into it.
How many shows of "Waitress"
do you think you've done at this point?
I have no clue.
Okay, so there's such cute things here.
Yeah. I'm taking this Bob Ross mug.
And I know that you paint by numbers, right?
In the dressing room, in my breaks between, like,
in the show, if I have, like, a little down time,
I'll just pull out my paint by numbers.
I love this store. I love buying gifts out of here.
You always find something different, you know?
I've never seen those mists before
and I might just take a gander at those.
And also, you've only been back in the show here on Broadway
for a few months where you kind of still getting
used to your dressing room again.
Yeah, yeah. You're decorating.
All right, so let's find some stuff to make you more settled.
What's your color palette? What's your theme?
Well, I don't really know.
The room is lavender.
Oh, my goodness. Like a Swedish forest.
Oh, that's nice. Not that I've ever been,
but it feels like it smells like a Swedish forest.
I think a Swedish forest will smell like this one.
I hope it does.
No, I think -- That one's really good.
I think I actually might get that one.
Right? You want me to pull that one out for you?
Yes, please. Here.
Tell us a little bit about the store
and how long you've been here and stuff.
Well, we've been doing business for 23 years now,
which seems like forever.
Congratulations. Thank you, thank you.
It's been an amazing journey here.
But we were originally theater people.
My husband was doing "Hello, Dolly!"
with Carol Channing on Broadway the last time she had done it.
Never heard of her. No, I know, she's obscure.
Just a dear, dear, amazing time in our lives.
And you've been open ever since? Ever since, yeah.
So, we still stayed part of the Broadway community,
and, you know, we love you guys, the show is amazing,
and so glad you're back in it.
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much.
We really appreciate it. Thank you.
Now, we got to get her back to her show.
The second one to do for the day.
Start warming up, baby. Thank you so much.
All right, thanks, guys. Bye.
All right, take care.
So, this is a really fun part of our show.
It's called "60 Second Sandwich."
Are you ready? I'm ready.
You got to answer as many questions
as you can in one minute. Okay.
I'm gonna put one minute on the clock and we're gonna go.
Got you. All right.
Boom! We're in.
Sophia Stadler on Instagram wants to know
what's your dream role?
My dream role is something that hasn't been created yet.
They'll create it for me. Ooh, love that.
Love that. Insta user Cindy0717,
"How do you keep your performance fresh every night?"
It's the job, you have to.
What are you currently obsessed with?
I am obsessed with Anderson .Paak.
Ooh! Facebook user Alexandria Chang,
"Can you make pie? Do you eat a lot of pie?
And are you not sick of it yet?"
I can't make pie, I don't eat a lot of pie,
and who's ever sick of pie?
Have you ever stood in line for autographs,
and if so, what show?
I have stood in line for autographs for "Brooklyn"
the musical, "Little Woman,"
"Thoroughly Modern Millie," so many.
Oh yeah. Okay.
Ever been a waitress in real life?
I have not been a waitress, but I've been a hostess.
Okay. Shannon P. Evans asks,
"Why is it so important
for representation on Broadway?"
It is very important because people
need to see themselves on stage.
People need to see themselves in every artistic medium.
That's beautiful. Seven seconds.
Favorite post-show treat? A cocktail!
Two seconds, uh, we don't have time.
You nailed it.
And now we have to go back to the show.
Let's do it. Let's do it.
Tell us about your favorite moment in the show.
My favorite moment in the show that I'm a part of
is "Soft Place to Land." I love that song.
I think it's just a beautiful time
with the three waitress in this quiet moment,
just dreaming together about, you know,
what their dream life would look like.
And that's where my favorite
Lorin Latarro moment is. You got this.
Ding, ding. I love it.
Um, show me back here by the bar counter.
Okay, come on, let's go. Oh, this is so cute.
It's like a real diner in this.
All the stuff. Mm-hmm.
Got the sugar, you got your napkins.
And now when you do that cool pie dance.
Is is strapped to you, or is it glued to you,
or are you just...
[ Laughs ]
Some people choose --
some people are a little adventurous
and they choose not to use the strap.
That is fair if you so choose.
Beautiful. That's pie-ography.
We have different things that we use.
Um, like here, this is what she's blowing as flour,
but it's actually inositol. It's a vitamin.
It's so if you breathe it in,
it's not, like, unhealthy for you.
Oh, good, okay.
So we also have -- you know,
we use a lot of ingredients in that song.
I know, it must become so messy up here.
Yeah, but we have this in the egg instead of a real egg.
That can get a little crazy.
What do you use instead of a real egg?
This is a little egg here,
and it has a peach with, like, syrup inside it.
So the peach looks like the yoke and the syrup is,
like, the white, and it's really cool.
And what do you use for butter?
Orange juice. Mm-hmm.
All right. Yeah, yeah.
So, here we are.
You're starring in a show on Broadway.
What does that feel like?
What's the best thing about that?
The best thing about that is it was a dream come true,
and one, at one point, I kind of thought,
you know, if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.
You know? I'll just --
as long as I'm creating, as long as I'm performing
and telling stories.
And so for this door to open and to have opened
so many other doors for me is just --
it's really a blessing and a dream come true.
And what is it like when people recognize you from the show?
It's so weird, but it's so cool.
I had a couple instances the other day where,
in the same day, back to back,
where two different young ladies,
I saw them see me, and then I saw their reaction,
and at first, I was kind of like,
"What is that -- Oh!"
That's what it is, and it's so weird,
but it's so wonderful. Well, 'cause you know
what it's like to be on the other side, too, right?
Yeah, exactly, 'cause I've been that person,
like, seeing Audra McDonald on the street
and geeking out, like...
Try to be normal, or seeing Norm Lewis, or Lillias White.
Oh, God! You know?
Just geeking out over them.
That's how people see you now.
Yeah, yeah, it's wild, but I'll take it.
How do you think you would feel if you were watching yourself
perform from this seat right now?
[ Laughing ] I have no clue.
I mean, I hope I would like --
I think I would like what I saw because I do my best as an actor
to just be honest and tell the truth.
That's something that --
That's when it can land on people's hearts.
The one thing I have to know, is it real pie?
Yes. The smell in the theater?
Yeah. Yeah, I'll show you.
Now, what do you do with the pies after this?
We take them home and we eat them.
So all of these pies get eaten? Mm-hmm.
And I will let you do the special ingredient.
Okay, a little cinnamon. A little cinnamon.
All right. Shake, girl.
Come on! Good, good, good.
Somebody still has to eat this. Okay.
All right, Charity, the moment of truth.
Yes! I never get to do this.
You're done. Thank you!
This is funny.
All of the old Joes that have come through here,
they take a picture, and they, like, lined this wall here
with old Joes,
including June Squibb, our old Josephine.
Hi, June. And this is you?
Uh-huh, this is me. How convenient.
Love this. You have a couch.
You can take naps. Real naps!
And you know I do.
I take full advantage of this couch.
Um, so show us around a little bit.
What do you have in here?
We've got -- we've got our glasses, of course, up here,
our flower vases from all the people
who send flowers and everything.
So, we make sure we hold on to those and reuse them, you know.
Ah, and "a dream is a soft place to land."
"A dream is a soft place to land,"
which was made by a fan, I believe.
Then this is my little area over here.
We sang for Michelle Obama, and she --
So, when I took over for Becky...
...she gave me this, you know, little thing,
"Dreams are made here."
She was like, "Oh, that was so wonderful.
That was beautiful."
And I just died. I gagged.
I could barely remember the words.
I was like, "Oh, God, I've sung this song a million times,"
but it was for Michelle Obama, so...
So, you peed for Sara Bareilles and you gagged
and died for Michelle Obama.
Exactly. That makes sense.
It makes sense. High stakes.
And you got a Nurse Becky doll
that's plugged in right here, right in the place.
Well, yeah, this is her little seat.
This is little Becky. We have some others.
Well, she is a highly charged, sexual being,
so this makes sense. This makes a lot of sense.
All right, so, now we have all this cute stuff
from Delphinium. What are you gonna do with it?
Let me see, because I'm trying --
I don't like a lot of clutter, but we don't have much space.
But of course, this Bob Ross mug
has to go right near my painting here.
You see, this is the painting I was talking about.
Oh, that the paint by numbers. Yes.
And this, I can't light it in the dressing room, but...
So that's for home. Yeah, this is for home.
So I might put this back to the side.
I wish I could stay while you did your show.
Well, I got to get ready for the next one.
Well, I'm gonna try and go get a last-minute ticket.
Oh, please, do! Thank you.
It was so wonderful.
You are incredible. Thank you so much.
Thank you for spending the day with me.
Thank you. And telling us all about you.
You're just wonderful and very inspirational in so many ways.
Thank you, it's been a pleasure. All right.
All right. So you're kicking me out?
Yeah. All right.
I got to put on my Spanx, okay?
I hear you. Me, too.
Have a great show.
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