By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
Broadway In Chicago is thrilled to announce that “Waitress” will play the Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph) for a limited three-week engagement July 3 – 22, 2018.
Brought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by six time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (“I Am Sam”) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (“Hair,” “Pippin” and “Finding Neverland”). Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, “Waitress” tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker. Jenna 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.
But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life. “Waitress is a little slice of heaven!” says Entertainment Weekly and “a monumental contribution to Broadway!” according to Marie Claire.
Charity Angél Dawson, who plays Becky, is beyond excited to step into the role of Becky down at the diner! She’s been part of the production since its Cambridge run, where she originated the role of Nurse Norma. She has also appeared on Broadway in “The Color Purple” and “Dreamgirls.” Regionally, she has played in “Waitress,” “Kiss Me, Kate,” “The Wiz” and “West Side Story.”
Dawson spoke with the Crusader briefly about her role in this iconic play and her work in general.
She says that her role as Becky shows a strong woman. “It feels amazing! She is such a sure, strong and powerful woman, and playing this role has shifted me as a person in beautiful ways. Her love for her friends and her desire to see them thrive is infectious. Her confidence and surety of self are things I have taken home with me.”
Dawson has starred in a number of plays and says she caught the acting bug early on. “I fell in love with acting in high school doing forensics competitions. I did my first show my senior year of high school and haven’t let it go since.”
And while she has played Effie in “Dreamgirls” and says it was the “hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” Dawson spoke about preparing for the role of Becky in this production. “I try and just step into her day at the top of the show. I give myself something new every day,” she said, while explaining further. “[I think] What was her morning like before coming to work? Did she smoke a cig in the parking lot to get herself together to head into the diner? What did her husband put her through this morning? What is she looking forward to after work?”
Dawson’s thoughts about the “The Wiz,” which was her first musical: “I watched it all the time as a kid and listened to the record, so I knew I had to audition and be in it.”
Regarding “Dreamgirls,” Dawson said, “Dreamgirls was another show that I had been familiar with growing up and I always had a connection to. Doing that show taught me so much about myself as a woman and an artist.”
And finally, performing in the “Color Purple” was almost like a dream come true. “The Color Purple is life! I read the book growing up, watched the movie and volunteered as an usher to see the tour on my day off when I was older. It has always been a part of me, and I was so blessed to be able to share that incredible story every night.”
Recently, women of color have been receiving and playing in roles of substance in theatre and on the big screen. Dawson had the following advice for aspiring actresses. “Train. Never stop learning. Always be discovering and challenging yourself. Also, don’t try and be something you’re not,” she said. “Bring your full self into each room knowing and trusting that you are enough. Break out of the boxes that other people try to put you in and the ones you have put yourself in. There is no box that can contain all of your glory!”
To see Dawson perform in the “Waitress,” which is playing until July 22 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., visit http://www.broadwayinchicago.com/show/waitress-2018/.