NEW YORK (AP) — When he was still a teenager, Jason Mraz considered musical theater as a career option but feared he’d end up frustrated and as a waiter. Now the singer-songwriter is ready to make that jump and he’s picked an appropriately titled show — “Waitress.”
The two-time Grammy Award-winning troubadour whose hits include “I’m Yours” and “I Won’t Give Up” will make his Broadway debut in the hit musical starting Nov. 3.
“It’s classy, it’s classic, it’s whimsical, it’s kitsch, it’s funny, its scandalous — it’s got a little bit for everyone,” said Mraz. “I love that I get out of my routine and try on a new routine that requires me to show up in a different way.”
“Waitress,” the musical adaptation of the 2007 film with songs by pop star Sara Bareilles, tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and pie maker trapped in a small-town diner and a loveless marriage.
Mraz will play Dr. Pomatter, a gynecologist and Jenna’s love interest. He’ll have several duets with actress Betsy Wolfe, including the steamy “Bad Idea,” the adorable “It Only Takes a Taste” and the aching “You Matter to Me.” Mraz has already recorded “Bad Idea” and “You Matter To Me” with Bareilles on her Top 10 album “What’s Inside: Songs From Waitress.”
“I love Sara, I love the music, I love the story, I think Dr. Pomatter is a very likable guy even though he’s somewhat scandalous in the plot. He’s a likable character and his songs are so enjoyable,” said Mraz.
Bareilles reached out to Mraz to personally ask him to take the part. He took a day to think it over. “I think Jason’s personality just lends itself to this character,” she said. “He’s incredibly charismatic and incredibly sweet and soulful. He’s also really funny and really smart.”
The Virginia-born singer who briefly attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy before focusing on his own music said he weighed a career in musicals but feared he’d be auditioning for the rest of his life.
“That scared me and I thought, ‘I’m going to be a waiter. I’m going to be a waiter for the rest of my life.’ So at 18, I decided, ‘I’m going to write my own music and essentially write my own life musical,” he said.
“I said, in the back of my mind, ‘Maybe in my 40s or 50s, when I’m older and I have life experience, there might be more parts available for me. And, sure enough, two months after I turned 40, my phone rang and I got an invitation to come to New York.” He laughed: “The universe is cashing in the rain check.”
Mraz joins other stars from pop and rock to join Broadway shows, including Panic! at the Disco’s singer Brendon Urie in “Kinky Boots,” Josh Groban in “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,” Sting in “The Last Ship,” Carly Rae Jepsen in “Cinderella” and Bareilles herself, who has played Jenna.
“I hope I live up to the hype,” said Mraz.