Lisa Condit spoke with Ephie Aardema, who plays Dawn in Waitress. Listen to the full interview below or read on for highlights, and be sure to tune into WCRN 830 AM Radio Saturdays at 1 pm for more behind-the-scenes interviews.
Ephie: Shout out to my friends in Stoneham. I’m excited to be back in Massachusetts. I’ve worked there several times and I love it!
Lisa: I saw Waitress on Broadway and I’m thrilled that you’re coming to Worcester because the music is awesome, the story is awesome, you laugh, you cry, the dance numbers are awesome and it’s hysterical all at the same time.
Ephie: Those are the things I love about it too! Most of the people I talk to about Waitress know something about it. They either know about Sara Bareilles, the music, or something about the movie, which was the source material. It was written by Adrienne Shelly as a valentine to her baby and grew into this much larger story. Audiences might know something about it, but they might not know all the elements, like, even though the subject matter is really heavy, it is so funny. It has been a dream of a piece to work on because it is so juicy.
Lisa: Tell us about your journey.
Ephie: I auditioned twice, once for the Broadway company and once for the national tour, and in February this year I got a phone call saying, “Can you be here in three days?” It came out of the clear blue sky. A lot of time had passed. I didn’t expect to get cast. My first show was February 16. Next week will mark 100 shows for me. The show itself just had its celebration for 600 shows! There are still some people in the cast who have been with it since the beginning. The person I play opposite, Jeremy Morse, has been with the company since it was out of town before it ever went to Broadway. He’s been in every production of Waitress so far. His journey is much longer than mine. Now I’m starting to feel that I’ve been here for a while and have grown to love this character and this story even more.
Lisa: What do you love about playing the role of Dawn?
Ephie: I love her journey. How identifiable she is. I meet people who swear they are Dawn. They see themselves in her. She just so badly wants to be loved and wants to love another person and have a romantic relationship. Her journey goes from being this extremely introverted person who suffers greatly because of her obsessiveness and fear and she meets somebody who complements her and is just as weird as she is, but in a totally different way. It brings her out of her shell and makes her joyful. She is the image for Jenna (the main character) of what her life could have been like. Dawn is one of the inspirations for her to want to get out of the bad marriage that she’s in. It’s a joy to get to do that.
Lisa: People do completely identify with you as well as Jenna. I think every character in Waitress is very accessible to people.
Let’s talk about the songs. Sara Bareilles does an amazing job for this musical. Do you have any favorites or tips for anyone who’s not familiar with the music?
Ephie: Listen to the recording ahead of time. It’s an incredible cast album. There is also a recording that Sara did of the ideas for the songs before they did it on Broadway, recordings of her and her friends singing all the songs. I think the album is called “What’s Inside.” That was really interesting to listen to when I was learning the music, to hear how it felt to Sara before they put it onto the actors. My favorite song to sing is “Soft Place to Land.” It’s so poetic and beautiful and uplifting.
Photos Credit: Philicia Edeman