Glee’s Jenna Ushkowitz Channels Real-Life Experience and Dreams of Pie for Waitress on Broadway
In the Broadway hit Waitress, Glee alum Jenna Ushkovitz now stars as Dawn, the role that indie actress-director-writer Adrienne Shelly created for herself in the original movie. Here, Ushkovitz sheds light on some of the culinary aspects of her latest showbiz endeavor.
While you’re best known for Glee, you’re no stranger to Broadway. You were in Spring Awakening and, a decade before that, The King and I. But did you ever have a period when you had to waitress yourself?
Oh yeah. I waitressed and bartended at Quality Meats in New York for almost two years. It was during my senior year in college and into my “really unemployed graduate” life.
That was a trendy place back then. Who came in?
Jennifer Aniston—I’m a huge Friends fan—Leonardo di Caprio, Woody Allen, Liev Schrieber... Those are the most memorable ones. I tried not to geek out, you know.
You handle your props in Waitress with such dexterity that I sensed that you’d done this before. Your character has a special relationship with the condiments. Do you have a personal favorite?
I’m a Dijon mustard person but I’m all about condiments. Like if I have anything that I’m eating with a condiment, I’ll have them all. I’ll have ketchup, mustard, spicy mustard, ranch, mayo, barbecue, honey mustard… They have to be all there. It’s all about the props.
Your character is into TV dinners. Are you a TV dinner person or a cook?
I’ve definitely had my fair share of frozen foods. But I also do like cooking. I tend to cook more when I have a boyfriend or I’m dating somebody. Just because it’s more fun to cook with somebody. Otherwise, I’m pretty much a Seamless girl. Living in New York, takeout is the way to go.
Do you have any special dishes that you like to make?
When I’m eating really healthy, I like to make this spaghetti squash pie. It’s basically a base of roasted spaghetti squash with red sauce, baby spinach, mushrooms, and red onion and then sometimes some kind of lean meat on top and then it’s baked into a pie... It’s wholesome. It just makes you feel full and satisfied when you’re on a diet.
Let’s talk about the dessert pies in the show. Are they fake or real?
Most of them are fake except for the ones for the diner clientele. We probably use about a half a pie per show. Then the real pies are saved and refrigerated for the next show. The pieces that are used go into the garbage obviously.
Some of the pies in the show have such great names. The Ginger Snap Out of It Pie. The Couch Potato Pie. The Kick in the Pants Peppermint Pie. Is there one you’d like to try?
My favorite in the show is the Marshmallow Mermaid. I like how it looks.… It’s the prettiest one out there.
The musical Waitress with Jenna Ushkowitz is now playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47th St., New York, NY. For tickets, go to waitressthemusical.com or call 877-250-2929.