Desi Oakley, who starred in the national tour of Waitress, was flown to London over the weekend in order to play the lead role of Jenna in the hit musical at the Adelphi Theatre beginning January 13.
Oakley is filling in for Lucie Jones, who currently stars in the West End production, as well as her understudies Olivia Moore and Sarah O’Connor, who all became ill this past weekend.
The January 11 matinee and evening performances were both canceled due to the illness of all three actors. However, during the afternoon of July 11, the company of the musical put together a presentation of songs from the Sara Bareilles score for audience members who arrived at the theatre not knowing the show had been canceled. Many audience members stayed for the presentation, which included performances of “I Didn’t Plan It,” “When He Sees Me,” “Never Getting Rid,” and the finale version of “Opening Up.”
There was an extra bit of drama Saturday night when theatre management was informed that the neighboring Vaudeville Theatre had been evacuated due to a security threat. Patrons at Waitress managed to depart the Adelphi before the theatre was also put on lockdown. Remaining staff were allowed out after about 20 minutes.
Oakley, seen on Broadway as Roxie Hart in Chicago, will continue in London until Jones, Moore, and O'Connor recover.
Waitress features an original score by seven-time Grammy nominee Bareilles, a book by screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam), direction by Tony winner Diane Paulus (Pippin, Finding Neverland), and choreography by Lorin Latarro.
The London production of Waitress will end its run July 4 at the Adelphi Theatre.