Steamboat native Grace Stockdale performing in Broadway’s “Waitress”
January 5, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Working with a music idol like Sara Bareilles was once a mere daydream. Now, it's Steamboat Springs native Grace Stockdale's reality.
After finishing the tour with Broadway's "Kinky Boots" – a Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and a book by Harvey Fierstein – in September 2015, Stockdale went on to audition for "Waitress," the new Tony-nominated Broadway hit, featuring original music and lyrics by six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles, a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson and direction by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus.
"I'd heard the cast album and was a huge fan of Sara Bareilles since I was a teenager so it almost seemed meant to be," Stockdale said. "I remember when her first hit single 'Love Song' came out, and I couldn't get it out of my head. It's a dream to be able to get to work with her and sing her music every night."
According to the production's press release, "Waitress" was inspired by Adrienne Shelly's beloved film, which follows the story of Jenna — a waitress and expert pie maker, who dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town's new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness.
The national tour of "Waitress" brought the Broadway production to Denver this winter and will continue to show nationally.
While Stockdale was in Denver for the performance, Explore Steamboat had a chance to ask her a few questions about her new role in the ensemble cast and life on the road again.
Explore Steamboat: How is this role in "Waitress" different than the one you had in "Kinky Boots"?
Grace Stockdale: Going from the shoe factory to the diner has definitely been a transition, but I'm so grateful to have made it. These roles are like night and day. In "Kinky Boots," I was a fiery, fierce, uptight British posh-woman. In this cast, I play very nurturing, salt of the earth, very real, humble characters. Even the costumes couldn't be more different. Waitress is very simple, pure and based in reality, whereas Kinky Boots was definitely more of a spectacle, with incredibly elaborate costumes, wigs, make up design etc. These shows could not be more different from each other. But at the same time, both have something unique, and wonderful to offer both the casts that perform them, and the audiences that witness them.
ES: What is it about the "Waitress" story that resonates most with you? What about with audiences?
GS: "Waitress," the story itself resonates most with me due to the sheer nature of the themes of self-discovery, realization and finding oneself in the darkest of times. It's about making those tough decisions that ultimately are right in the end. Jenna has to leave Earl, her husband, with whom she has a dysfunctional, disorderly relationship, for her own happiness, and ultimately, her own fulfillment as a human being. I've had to make similar choices in my life, Ones I knew were right, however very difficult. It makes people question their own relationships, their own motives, their own truths. It makes people want to live those truths even more. At least in my experience, the show changed my life. It brought about so many positive changes for me and made me realize a lot about what I had to do to truly live my life to the absolute max. The show inspired me so deeply and made me brave, courageous, and in touch with who I really am.
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ES: What is it like to work in the cast with Sara Bareilles? What are the most significant things you've learned from her, the tour and the cast/ crew?
GS: Sara has taught me so much about musicianship, style, tone and conveying the emotion of a song. She is a true artist, and it's no wonder she has been so successful in her career. Not only is she personable and lovely, but she is such a talent and to see her play Jenna was absolutely exuberant. Some of the most significant things I've learned from touring is that the world is very large but at the same time, very small. You really have to enjoy every city and every moment on this incredible adventure.
Touring is in and of a world in itself. I've learned that the closer this cast can get, the better the show is, and at the end of the day, what we truly have out here on the road, is each other. Companionship and teamwork are very important when it comes to performing eight shows a week and living out of hotel rooms.
ES: Do you find that your roots in Steamboat Springs still influence you even today?
GS: Absolutely, 100 percent. I will always be a small-town girl, raised on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, in touch with nature, and longing for the outdoors. I am so thankful to have grown up where I grew up, learned what I learned from being raised in the country and having taken that into the big city with me.
I try to get back to my native performing arts school and camp, Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, as often as I possibly can to teach and raise money for their incredible cause. It is the reason why I am in this industry, the reason I got into the school I got into, and the reason for much of my artistic and creative success. I am so incredibly influenced by the nature of Colorado, and especially the place where I trained, Perry-Mansfield.