Waitress, a story about an unhappy server with a talent for pies and an unexpected baby on the way, opens on Broadway in April (it’s based on the excellent movie of the same name). And it’s the first all-female led musical since 1984.
According to Five Thirty Eight, the last time an all-women creative team led a show on New York’s Great White Way was when Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek headed the productions of Elizabeth Swando’s Runaways (1978) and Quilters (1984). For the most part, according to Playbill Vault’s numbers, “only about 1 in 10 directors, authors or composers, and 1 in 4 choreographers, have been female.” Fifty-two percent of the 255 shows since have had four men heading the creative roles of director, playwright, choreographer, and music & lyrics. However, Waitress’s team features playwright Jessie Nelson (who wrote and directed 2001’s I Am Sam starring Sean Penn and a tiny Dakota Fanning), Sara Bareilles on music and lyrics, Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus, and choreographer Lorin Latarro.
Off-Broadway, Joanna Kao writes there have been gains in gender equity behind the curtain. In a 2015 study, the League of Professional Theater Women found 33 percent of the directors and 31 percent of the playwrights were women. Still, Waitress’s team is a great step in a year of many on Broadway: the success of Hamilton aside, Eclipsed, starring Lupita Nyong’o and written by The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira, boasts an all-black female cast.
Image via Waitress.