BWW Interview: Marisha Wallace Talks WAITRESS at Adelphi Theatre
Marisha Wallace moved to the UK to take on the role of Effie White in Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre. She is currently playing the role of Becky in Waitress at the Adelphi Theatre. Marisha spoke to BroadwayWorld about the show and the new cast additions.
Are you looking forward to welcoming some new colleagues to the diner?
Yeah, I'm excited. We have two new members coming to the diner, two new waitresses. Ashley Roberts, who's playing Dawn, and Lucie Jones playing Jenna. The show has been going for a while now. We opened in March, and now it's time for a little change.
Lucie has already done a few shows. She's been wonderful so far. It's been great to finally announce she's fully taking over the role from 17 June. People have already been going crazy for her.
The cast is a little family. Truly, before every show, we gather and have a little prayer circle where we talk about what's going on in our lives. It has to be that way for this kind of show, so it's really nice to add more members to our family.
Are you a fan of Sara Bareilles?
She sounds like a radio. When I hear her, I think "Is that sound really coming out of your mouth?". The perfect pitch. I'd love to sound like that - she's just so good. It's like she's from a different era.
Are you a baker? What's your favourite type of pie?
I always get in trouble when I'm asked this for saying my favourite dessert is cheesecake and then I'm told, "That's not a pie"!
Do you have a favourite moment in the show?
I love "A Soft Place To Land". That song and the scene before it is so beautiful: seeing the three waitresses and their relationship outside of work, lifting each other up, empowering each other.
In the media, you often see women fighting. It's so nice to see women empowering each other, because that's what really happens in real life! If a girl is going through something, her girlfriends are right behind her. "Girl, leave him! Get your head together!"
In the case of this number, we're making sure Dawn is looking good for her date with Ogie. That's what we do in real life, so it's really cool to see that on stage, especially in a musical!
You rarely see a love song between friends, and that's just what "A Soft Place To Land" is. We three girls love each other, we have dreams, and we're going to get there together, helping each other out in the process.
How do you find performing that number with the logistics of all the ingredients?
It's crazy! The first time we performed, it was at a press event, and we had only learned it two days before. I felt like I was singing "So pure...I don't know where this egg goes! I don't know where this sugar goes!". We were told not to look so terrified, but we really were!
Now, it feels so easy. It's crazy how your body gets used to it.
How did you find your transition from Effie to Becky?
It was so busy, because my last week of Dreamgirls was the first week of Waitress rehearsals, so I was doing both - Becky in the day and Effie at night. It was insane. I got to the last day of doing both and wasn't sure if I could do it!
How do you look after your voice during busy times like that?
I'm blessed I have chords of steel, but it's also just training, water and sleep. My voice got really tired that week because I wasn't getting as much sleep. I was at work at 10am, then talking and singing all day before doing a show in the evening.
I think you can always just will your body to do what you want it to do. I suppose you could say I'm a vocal athlete!
You've been in the UK for a while now - how do British audiences compare to the US?
I had heard you guys were going to be really reserved, but you guys are right with it, screaming and yelling along with us. I love it when an audience is like that.
Some people say it's rude, but I think if people are feeling something such that they are moved to make an audible sound, then that's what they should do.
You don't get that with Netflix; you're just sitting quietly in your house. You don't get to be in a group setting and experience a show together, which is so exciting. Let people feel what they feel!
How did you find your show at The Other Palace last weekend?
It was beautiful. It was so different. I did a concert after the first year I was in Dreamgirls, and I had a lot of great fans there. This time, the fans there felt like they'd been there with me for the whole journey, from Dreamgirls to Waitress.
It was just so cool to have a moment with them - to talk about my story and all the things I've been through since I've been here and just be able to give a love letter back to them to say thank you for supporting me.
It was a beautiful night. We danced, we sang, we clapped, we shouted! I always get my audience to participate. I don't want to be the only one singing. It was great to have everyone singing with me.
Do you prefer playing yourself at a concert or a character in a show?
I really love doing concerts. I'm a host, and I'm a comedian. That's one of my favourite things to do, but I love doing characters as well. When I'm myself, I get to be in control of it and can do whatever I want, but I love playing a character too.
Why should people come to Waitress?
People should come to Waitress became it's unexpected. You see the poster and think "Oh, there's pie in it", but there's a lot more going on that just that. There is some serious content. It's hilarious; it'll make you cry and think too. It doesn't go the way you think it's going to go.
With Lucie and Ashley joining, it's going to be a completely different show, so if you've seen it already, come back and see it again. It'll have a whole new energy and a new life because there are new people in it!
Photo credit: Simon Turtle