Conversation: What’s it like performing with a national touring company?

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Conversation: What’s it like performing with a national touring company?

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Actress Arica Jackson is an understudy for the national touring production of “Waitress.” The show will be in Cincinnati through Jan. 21. CONTRIBUTED

Actress Arica Jackson, a member of the national touring company of “Waitress” has been busy gearing up the production’s two-week run in Cincinnati. In addition to performing, she also enjoys living downtown, taking in the arts, sports and technology.

“Waitress” features original music and lyrics by six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”) and is inspired by a film of the same title. The production will be in Cincinnati through Sunday, Jan. 21. Tickets start at $30.

We talked to Jackson about her role in “Waitress.”

Q: Tell us about yourself and your role?

A: My name is Arica Jackson, and I recently graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in May of 2017. A couple of months after graduation, I booked the first national tour of “Waitress.” My main roles are being a swing and understudy to Becky, one of the Waitresses at the Diner.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about what you do?

A: I love performing. As a swing, most times, I am at standby backstage for every performance, unless a cast ensemble is sick or calls out for a show. So, when I’m given the opportunity to be on stage, which has happened a couple of times, I feel like I’m at Disney world. I get to sing and play with the audience.

Q: As far as your role in theater, what do you consider some of your greatest achievements or accomplishments?

A: My greatest accomplishments have been graduating college with a BFA, moving to NYC to pursue my dreams as an actor, booking my first national tour, and working with an all-female creative team that has inspired most of my theater career.

Q: You have a local connection to Cincinnati. Can you tell us more about that and how you’re connected to the area?

A: My mother, Gwendolyn Jackson, recently moved to Cincinnati two years ago. And she lives right downtown. And although home is where the heart is, home is also where your mother is. So, I’ve been so blessed to have become acquainted with downtown Cincinnati which is full of the arts, technology, and sports.

Q: “Waitress” will be in Cincinnati through Sunday, Jan. 21. What can audiences expect from the production? Can you touch on some of the highlights?

A: Audiences can expect a lot of laughs, love, unexpected twists, and female empowerment. I think the most powerful moment in the show is the scene in which the three waitresses meet in the pantry to sing my favorite song “A Soft Place to Land.” It’s where they connect on an emotional level for the first time and share their hopes and dreams.

Q: The production was inspired by a film. Are there any major differences or changes from the film to the on-stage production?

A: I would say that the plot of the film and the production are quite similar. But the major difference lies in the presentation of the characters in our production. Thanks to our awesome playwright, Jessie Nelson, we have characters in this show that are very complex, hilarious, and full of life. The characters are not there just to serve the main character, but are there to touch Jenna’s life with their talents and eccentricities.

Q: Can you talk about some of the characters?

A: Down at the diner, we have Jenna, who is our main character. She is an excellent pie baker and has big dreams of winning a pie contest when she finds out she’s pregnant by her not-so-nice husband, Earl. Jenna is also accompanied by her waitresses Becky, who’s like the strong mother of the diner, and Dawn, a shy woman “who LOVES the History Channel” as well as, Cal, the cook who operates the diner. And we also have Joe, who owns the diner and is filled with wisdom.

We also have the funniest characters you’ll ever meet in Ogie’s character and Nurse Norma.

And lastly, we have an OBGYN, aka Dr. Pomatter, who’s from Connecticut and doesn’t usually eat pie, until he has a taste of Jenna’s creation.

Q: How can each of us relate to the character, Jenna?

A: Jenna is messy, but she’s kind. You can easily relate to this woman, who is struggling to survive a life she didn’t exactly choose, but who has made the best of it. Of course, mothers will instantly connect to Jenna’s story, because this story is about a woman becoming a mother and how a child changes her life.

Q: What would you hope audiences would walk away with after seeing the show?

A: I hope this show inspires people to pursue their dreams regardless of the circumstances they are born into. I also hope audiences walk away with the strength to walk away from unhealthy relationships. And of course, I want people to walk away humming the songs from the show.

Q: Are there any themes or topics the show touches on?

A: The main themes of the show are love, pregnancy, dreams, marriage, abuse, survival, and changes.

Q: The musical features music from Sara Bareilles. How does the music complement the production? Do you have a favorite song or scene in the show?

A: The music is absolutely perfect for the show. The lyrics are brilliant, serve each scene, and give a perfect snapshot of each character. From “What Baking Can Do” to “I Didn’t Plan It” the songs take you on a wild ride. The audience is going to really love the music. My favorite song is “A Soft Place to Land.”

Q: How can we purchase tickets for “Waitress” or find out more about the rest of the 2017-18 season?

A: Tickets for “Waitress” are available for purchase online at www.cincinnatiarts.org. For more information on other shows in the 2017-18 season and the upcoming 2018-19 season announcement in February, go online to www.BroadwayInCincinnati.com.

Contact this contributing writer at gmwriteon@aol.com.

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