Jennifer Nettles to Star in 'Waitress' on Broadway

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: Jennifer Nettles attends the 74th Annual Tony Awards at Winter Garden Theater on September 26, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

Country singer Jennifer Nettles is making her return to Broadway. Nettles, who made her Broadway debut in Chicago as Roxie Hart, is set to star as Jenna in the hit musical Waitress.

"It is an absolute dream," Nettles told PEOPLE of taking on the iconic role. "There are so many layers to Waitress that make it so meaningful to me. It is heart-warming, heart-breaking at times, and absolutely heart-inspiring. I'm thrilled to be able to finally get to wear the apron."

Nettles will begin performing in the show on Oct. 19 and will continue until Nov. 24.

Read More: Jennifer Nettles + Justin Miller: How a Sugarland Music Video Led to Their Love Story

Waitress is based on the 2007 film of the same name, written and directed by Adrienne Shelly. The film stars Kerri Russell as Jenna, a talented baker and waitress who feels trapped in a marriage with an abusive husband. The film also stars Andy Griffith, Cheryl Hines, Adrienne Shelly, Nathan Fillion and Jeremy Sisto.

The musical, which features music and lyrics by singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, premiered on Broadway in 2016.

The role of Jenna was originated by Tony winner Jessie Mueller. The character has been played by Stephanie Torns, Betsy Wolfe, Katharine McPhee, Nicolette Robinson, Shoshana Bean, Alison Luff, Jordin Sparks and, most recently, lyricist Sara Bareilles. Bareilles' final performance is Oct. 17.

The Grammy award-winning Georgia-born country music star said she's proud to follow in Bareilles' footsteps.

"Sara is my dear friend of mine and when Waitress first came out, I was so excited for her. Loved the project, loved the show, loved the material and wanted to be able to be a part of this beautiful legacy that my friend had created. But we were just never able to make it work in terms of timing," Nettles told PEOPLE. "So to be able to now be a part of it, and this beautiful celebration of Broadway's reopening? It's just like, the stars have aligned. The right thing happens at the right time."

Nettles recently released Always Like New, a collection of Broadway songs, including tunes from Hamilton, Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady, Annie and more. The deluxe edition of the album features a recording of "She Used to Be Mine" from Waitress.

"My love of musical theater and this Broadway community is no secret, and hasn't been for years," Nettles told PEOPLE. "The last note that I sang for recording Always Like New actually happened to be on March 12, 2020, the day of the Broadway shutdown. I walked out of the vocal booth and all of our phones lit up and said that Broadway was officially closing. It was like, 'What is going on?' So being able to put this album out to celebrate this beautiful community, and then to get this telephone call on top of it? It's checking all the boxes."

In addition to her music career, Nettles is an accomplished actor. The Sugarland singer has appeared in the film Harriet and the HBO series The Rigthteous Gemstones. She also starred as Dolly Parton's mother, Avie Lee Parton, in the television films Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors and Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love.


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Jennifer Nettles to Star in 'Waitress' on Broadway