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‘Waitress’ is all about love, fun, family — and female empowerment

“Waitress,” a new musical based on the 2007 film by Adrienne Shelly, will be at the Aronoff Center through Sunday, Jan. 21. The production features original music and lyrics by six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song.”)

Tickets for the show start at $30.

We caught up with a member of the national touring company, Arica Jackson, to find out more about the show. Jackson is a swing and understudy to Becky, one of the waitresses at the diner. Jackson is currently living in downtown Cincinnati with her mom, Gwendolyn Jackson, who moved to Cincinnati two years ago.

Jackson said the musical tells the story of Jenna — a waitress and expert pie maker, who dreams her way out of a small town and a loveless marriage.

“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,” Jackson said.

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The show touches on several themes, among them love, marriage, dreams, pregnancy, abuse and survival.

“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,” Jackson said.

The film and live stage adaptation are similar, she said, but the characters are really brought to life through the theater presentation.

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“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,” Jackson said.

A few of the musical number include “What Baking Can Do” and “I Didn’t Plan It” to “She Used to Be Mine,” and “Everything Changes.”

“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,” Jackson said.

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