With the news of Grammy-nominated musician Sara Bareilles making her West End debut as Jenna in the hit musical Waitress, let’s brush up on your knowledge of the Jenna Huntersons of Waitress London.
Katharine McPhee Foster
Katharine McPhee Foster made her West End debut as the UK’s first Jenna Hunterson after her four-month run as the leading lady on Broadway.
McPhee Foster is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She gained fame in 2006 after coming second place in the American singing competition show, American Idol. Five years after American Idol, she starred in Smash, a cult American musical drama following two budding actresses fighting for the role of Marilyn Monroe in a musical about her life.
During her four-month West End stint, she acted alongside West End favourites David Hunter, Laura Baldwin and Marisha Wallace.
Shortly after she left the West End, McPhee Foster married 16-time Grammy Award winning composer, record producer, and songwriter David Foster in South Kensington.
Lucie Jones is the current Jenna Hunterson after taking over from McPhee Foster from 17th June 2019.
Jones is most well-known for competing on The X Factor UK in 2009. After being eliminated in week five, Jones began modelling. But in 2010, she starred as Cosette in the West End production of Les Misérables. The musical opened many doors for Jones and she continued to star in musicals such as We Will Rock You, Ghost, Legally Blonde, and Rent.
Jones took a break from theatre and went on to win Eurovision: You Decide in 2017.
Lucie Jones is scheduled to continue her run as Jenna Hunterson until 25th January 2020, with a six-week break at the end of January.
American Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and actress Sara Bareilles is the woman behind the Waitress soundtrack – and will be taking over the role of Jenna this coming January.
The “Love Song” singer never thought she’d succeed in the musical theatre business, at one point saying, “I would have had a really hard time writing a big musical, I don’t know what that would look or sound like. Probably not very good!”
But longtime Broadway producer Barry Weissler was convinced Bareilles was the woman for the job, “we tried other writers, and they couldn’t tell the simple, heartfelt story,” quoted Billboard. Weissler thought Bareilles was perfect for this “lean and mean” musical because it’s “not a sprawling musical with big sets and big chorus numbers.”
Bareilles then went on to star in the musical. She made her Broadway debut in the musical on 31st March 2017 and reprised the role twice more. Now, she’ll be making her West End debut on Monday 27th January 2020 for six weeks only.
She has starred alongside many suitable Dr. Pommater’s including Jason Mraz, Gavin Creel, original Dr. Pommater Drew Gehling, and Chris Diamantopoulos.
The songwriter will be starring alongside Gavin Creel for her West End run.
Words: Derrian Douglas
Photo: Derrian Douglas