By Steven Solomon
Grace Stockdale doesn’t live in Oro Valley any longer, but her parents still do. And she’s already fantasizing what she’s going to do when Waitress finishes its October run at ASU Gammage.
“I can’t wait to see my parents, lay by the pool, have margaritas,” says Stockdale, 26, who attended Ironwood Ridge High School.
She is the understudy for the musical’s lead role, a pregnant waitress named Jenna, who bakes heavenly pies to sell at the diner where she works to take her mind off her unbearable marriage. Stockdale is also scheduled to appear in Waitress at Centennial Hall in December. Casting is subject to change.
The musical is based on a low-budget 2007 indie film, with music and lyrics by singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, whose “Love Song” reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Bareilles received Tony and Grammy award nominations for the musical’s compositions. The show previewed in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway in 2016. The U.S. national tour began in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2017.
“I’ve been out on the tour 10 months now, for maybe 340 shows,” she says, noting she’s taken on the lead role about 12 times in the last five months. “I think performing that character is incredibly exhausting. It’s three-and-a-half hours of pure adrenaline. But I wish I could do that role all the time.”
And when she’s back in the ensemble, “it’s a sigh of relief.”
Stockdale earned her bachelor’s degree in 2014 from Ithaca College in New York. Her first roles were in Cabaret and Legally Blonde at the Music Circus, a professional musical theater in Sacramento. She was next cast in the 2014 Off-Broadway production of Atomic, about the top-secret Manhattan Project to create the world’s first atomic bomb. Then until the fall of 2015, she had a minor role on the national tour of the Harvey Fierstein/Cyndi Lauper musical Kinky Boots, which landed six Tony awards.
In Waitress, Jenna’s husband steals her tips to get drunk and, after losing his job, becomes even more nasty. Jenna has an on-again, off-again affair with a married doctor, and dreams of winning enough money in a pie-baking contest to escape her husband. In the meantime, another waitress at the diner gets married in a ceremony catered by Jenna. And although Jenna’s husband finds and takes the money she has squirreled away to enter the pie-baking contest so she can’t compete, it all works out in the end.
“I think the show is precious and memorable. It’s definitely a good show,” Stockdale says. “I’m grateful for where I’m at.”