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Broadway Q&A: Todrick Hall of ‘Waitress’

Category Broadway

|by Matthew Wexler |

The YouTuber appears as the lovable Ogie through Sept. 15th only

Nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Waitress has been a pie-in-the-sky hit since it opened on Broadway in 2016. The show tells the story of Jenna, an unhappy waitress in a small town, and features music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles. The show recently welcomed singer-songwriter, YouTube sensation and all-around entrepreneur Todrick Hall. The versatile actor is stepping into the role of Ogie, the high-energy suitor to one of Jenna’s co-workers. You only have until September 15 to see him in the role opposite Colleen Ballinger, who is making her Broadway debut.

Todrick Hall appears as Ogie in ‘Waitress’ through September 15th only (Photo: Courtesy of Boneau/Bryan-Brown)

Todrick Hall appears as Ogie in ‘Waitress’ through September 15th only (Photo: Courtesy of Boneau/Bryan-Brown)

What was it about this project that enticed you to come back to Broadway?
Todrick Hall:
Well, it doesn’t take much enticing to get me to want to come back to Broadway, but I’ve also been a super fan of Sara Bareilles. I don’t only know her radio hits, but I also know pretty much every single song from her last few albums. I love her, I love the music, and I love that it’s pop and contemporary, but also super witty.

And I just love the character of Ogie. I love that it would be a stretch for me to be able to bring this character to life, given that I’ve only previously played a superstar drag queen (Kinky Boots) and a hotshot lawyer (Chicago) on Broadway, so it didn’t take much convincing. I’m so glad that I’m not only getting to come back to Broadway and play this hilarious role, but I’m also getting to share the stage with my good friend Colleen Ballinger.

You've collaborated with her before on YouTube – how did the two of you meet?
She asked me to perform a long time ago with her at the Magic Castle for a performance where I came in and sang “A Whole New World” from Disney’s Aladdin. I told her I was in town when I really wasn’t, but I was such a huge fan and wanted to be in her live shows, so I flew to L.A. just to sing that one song with her and the rest is history.

Can you describe the put-in rehearsal process for those not familiar with what's it's like for actors joining a long-running show?
The put-in rehearsal process is the most stressful part about being on Broadway. The reason why is because you are the only cast member who is new, and usually the only person who is in hair, makeup and costume.

Depending on the show, it might not be that severe, but in Kinky Boots I had to be put in as Lola, where I was in full nails, hair, hips and heels for drag while the rest of the cast was in street clothes. Everybody is observing you and taking it in – not judging you, but trying to see what you bring to the role. It’s a very nerve-racking thing, I would almost rather not have a put-in and just perform for a live audience, but that’s not possible. Fortunately, every cast that I’ve been a part of has been so ridiculously supportive and helped me be fully equipped to take the stage on opening night.

Eight shows a week! What's your secret to staying healthy and in shape for the demands of a Broadway schedule?
Sleep, sleep, sleep. I sleep a lot, I drink a lot of water, and I go to bed with a humidifier on. I also love to get completely obsessed with a TV show that can help keep my mind off of the fact that I’m not talking. Because on top of every other talent that I have, incessantly talking is my number one skill. 

Do you have a favorite NYC neighborhood, restaurant, or after-show bar/lounge?
I love going to 5 Napkin Burger (630 Ninth Avenue at 45th Street). I fell in love with it when I was in Kinky Boots, because it’s on the same street. I love that place, they have great burgers, and the staff is always so sweet. 

What’s next after you wrap your Waitress run?
I go immediately into rehearsals for my Haus Party World Tour, which I’m so excited about. And I’m the new dance captain on BBC 1’s hit show, The Greatest Dancer. I’m excited to help mentor these upcoming artists and talented performers on this reality show. I also have a new musical that I’m working on that I’m excited to complete and share with the world. 

Todrick Hall appears in Waitress through September 15. The musical is scheduled to play through January 5, 2020, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

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