Ten years after the end of Don Juan, Marie-Ève Janvier will soon return to musical comedy. She will play the lead role Waitressa show directed by Joël Legendre, expected next summer in Montreal and then in Quebec.
Marie-Ève Janvier has wanted to reconnect with the world of musical comedy for some time, a world that she has visited since her youth with Notre Dame de Paris, the 10 Commandments and then Don Juan. But it was important to find “the right project” so that the singer, who had now become a mother, was ready to jump into it with both feet.
“I wanted to relive that kind of gang trip on stage. But making a musical is something fascinating, so it had to be a project that spoke to me and put stars in my eyes. And Waitress is all of that,” admits the singer.
This musical will also allow her three children – ages 3 months to 7 years – to discover a new side of their mother. Léa, Laurence and Louis have been more dedicated to animation since birth and therefore know little about their career as singers.
“They never really saw me on stage. And let’s assume they don’t ask to listen to the Don Juan album every night! So it will be nice to show them that side of their mother,” she explains with a laugh.
Like the public, they will therefore discover her under the apron of Jenna Hunterson, a waitress trapped in a loveless marriage with an abusive spouse. When she finds out she is pregnant, she sees a pastry competition as the lifeline she has been desperately looking for.
100% French speaking
Waitress was first written and brought to the screen by Adrienne Shelly and made the jump to Broadway in 2016 thanks to the work of singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles. The musical has since been performed in various languages around the world to critical acclaim. The Quebec version will be the first to translate the work into French.
Marie-Ève Janvier knew nothing about the original works before auditioning for the lead role. But a casting video in which she performed “She Used to Be Mine,” the show’s signature song, was enough to convince Waitress’ rights holders; Sara Bareilles herself supported the Quebecer’s candidacy in just 48 hours.
“It’s a big vote of confidence, but it also increases the pressure. And that’s what I’ve been working towards from the beginning, so I’m ready to take on this challenge,” says Marie-Ève Janvier.
A long-held dream
Director Joël Legendre was very familiar with the work of Waitress. A few years ago he had the dream of composing a Quebec-only version of the successful musical.
“I saw the show on Broadway in 2016 and as soon as I left the theater I sent a message to Patrick Rozon from Just for Laughs. It was the most beautiful musical I had seen in my entire life, I had to direct it,” he says.
He attributes this enthusiasm – in part – to Waitress’ decidedly modern style. Because the show breaks with the tradition of the genre and its contemporary tone contradicts the supposed opulence of “Cats,” “Chicago” and other “Phantoms of the Opera” that defined its era. With their pop rhythms with folk accents, Sara Bareilles’ tracks can be easily distinguished from those of, for example, Andrew Lloyd Webber or Stephen Sondheim.
“Sara Bareilles changed the way musicals were constructed on Broadway. It is an approach that is simple, true and authentic. It’s close to our hearts, it’s very accessible,” agrees Joël Legendre.
- The musical Waitress will be performed at the Théâtre St-Denis in Montreal from June 22nd and at the Salle Albert-Rousseau in Quebec from August 10th. The rest of the cast will be announced soon.