Tuesday, August 7, 2018

2018 Interview - Desi Oakley

Broadway veteran actress/singer Desi Oakley is essaying the role of Jenna in Waitress on tour, currently at the Hollywood Pantages through August 26. Oakley took time from her busy performance schedule to discuss the show and what it means to her.

I have not seen Waitress. Tell our readers if your character Jenna is a waitress, where she works and specifically how the plotline develops in the show. Does she have a romance with her boss? She must champion some cause for women, or does she?

Jenna is the girl next door, born and still living in a small town. She is in a loveless, abusive marriage and finds out she’s pregnant. As an expert pie-maker at a diner, she has developed a bad habit of baking her problems into her pies instead of facing them. She is kind down to her bones, and has a big heart. But her circumstances have only pushed her dreams further from reality. Between her two best friends at the diner, the owner of the diner and even her gynocologist — she slowly starts to recognize her reality. Waitress is the story of Jenna’s eyes being open to her potential and her journey of taking the risk to fight for more in her life.

What is the most fun for you to do in this show?

Perform with the band onstage. I love that our band is on stage with us. It makes the music really come alive. The band isn’t hidden beneath the stage, they are a part of this story. Since they’re right up there with us, they can help us tell this story and connect with us and the audience in an awesome way.

What is challenging about playing Jenna?

Jenna is a complex character, with many layers. It is a challenge to portray such a real human without allowing myself to integrate into the characterization. Separating myself from Jenna is a difficult task because I relate to her in many ways. But on the flip side, her struggles are different than mine, and it's hard not to carry those home with me each night.

Is this your favorite role so far in your career? Why this choice?

Yes it is. Jenna is down to earth, real, and tangible. The story is an important one that I believe people need to hear, especially now.

Tell us briefly about playing Evita and Elphaba in Wicked.

I’ve been really fortunate to be a part of some iconic hit Broadway shows.  It is both exciting and humbling to make a small splash in Broadway history.

Who is your favorite composer of all time? Do you have a favorite show? Explain your choices.

My new favorite music theater composer is Sara Bareilles because she’s a genius. She was the perfect person to compose the score of Waitress because of her tounge and cheek lyrics and sarcastic wit.

Any role on stage that you are just longing to play?

My dream role is Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

I understand you recently sang "Frozen" at a concert? How thrilling was that for you?

I sang "Let it Go" at a Broadway Princess Party concert at 54 Below. I did the Demi Lovato version to switch it up, and it was a blast.

Back to Waitress...tell us why audiences should see this show.

Audience members will love Waitress not only because of the wonderful music and dynamic characters, but also because this is a real story that will make audiences think. It is a down-to-earth story that allows audiences to be introspective -- considering their lives and others'. It's a deeply-connected story of hope, self-acceptance, and love accompanied by Sara Bareilles' brilliant score and served with the aroma of pie. What's not to love?

August 2 - 26, 2018
Hollywood Pantages Theatre
6233 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 
Tickets: www.hollywoodpantages.com

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