February 18, 2018 / 1:32 PM

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Katharine McPhee To Make Broadway Debut In ‘Waitress’

 

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Katharine McPhee performing at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Patron of the Artists Awards 2017. The former "American Idol" contestant has been announced as the next Jenna in the musical "Waitress." She will replace Sara Bareilles.   ( Matt Winkelmeyer | Getty Images )

Former American Idol Katharine McPhee is heading to Broadway later this year. The 33-year-old has been cast as the lead character in the musical Waitress.

The announcement came from the official Twitter account of singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, the same brain behind the music and lyrics used in the production.

The "Terrified" singer will replace Bareilles who is currently playing the role of Jenna onstage.

Bareilles will next appear on NBC's production of Jesus Christ Superstar Live.

From TV To Broadway

McPhee was the runner-up from the 2006 batch of singers on American Idol (she lost to Taylor Hicks). Over the years, the 33-year-old branched out of music and pursued a career in acting.

She previously appeared in Smash in 2012 and Scorpion from 2014 onward. She is also set to appear in the movie Louisiana Caviar with Cuba Gooding Jr., Famke Janssen, and Richard Dreyfuss.

"People come up to me all the time and say, 'You've done Broadway, right?' And I'm like, 'Nope, I've never done it," the singer revealed. "I did a show about it but I was never, in fact, on Broadway. So this is really my first moment."

The confusion might have something to do with her appearance in Smash, a television drama surrounding the development of a musical about Marilyn Monroe. This time, however, she will be involved in a theater production for real.

McPhee added that scoring the lead role in Waitress is a dream come true.

"Aside from being a big Broadway fan and wanting to be on Broadway one day, to do a show that Sara Bareilles wrote the music and lyrics to — I'm such a fan of hers — it's a real thrill for me," she said.

Waitress centers around Jenna Hunterson, a waitress who is unhappy with her marriage. Her life became even more complicated when she found out that she is pregnant. 

Jenna expresses her feelings by baking pies with quirky names such as Wake Up and Smell the Coffee Kick Ass Pie, and Lost Shepherd Pie.

Bareilles, who received a Tony Award nomination for her work in the musical, said that writing the songs was an exercise in empathy. Before she was handed the responsibility, the singer has been drawing inspiration from her personal experiences. For Waitress, she had to explore and get to know the characters.

"There are no heroes or villains in Adrienne Shelly's world, just individuals making mistakes and trying to do the best they can," she told Boston Globe. " We live in a world right now where we are being pressured to think in binary terms. It's good to be reminded of the nuances that make us human."

McPhee's stint in Broadway will begin on April and end on June 17.

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