Husband and wife Adam Shapiro and Katie Lowes are making their Broadway debuts when they both take the stage Tuesday night as Ogie and Dawn -- first originated by Christopher Fitzgerald and Orange Is the New Black’s Kimiko Glenn -- in Waitress, the hit musical adaptation of the film about a small-town pie maker who sees a baking contest and a friendly new doctor as a way out of her loveless marriage and a chance at happiness.
For the two self-proclaimed “musical theater nerds” and diehard Smash fans, this is nothing short of a dream. “But we would never have even dared to dream to be in the same [Broadway production],” Shapiro clarifies to ET during a joint phone conversation on their day off.
Both East Coasters, who moved out to Los Angeles to work in film and on TV, Lowes is the former star of Scandal, on which she played Quinn for seven seasons, while Shapiro has appeared in the films Steve Jobs and The House Bunny -- opposite Katharine McPhee, who has taken over the musical’s lead role, Jenna -- and recurred on The Affair and Sense8. Both of them are part of the IAMA Theatre Company, the L.A.-based group -- it recently celebrated its 10th anniversary -- that has allowed each of them to maintain their passion for theater in between Hollywood projects.
So when Sara Bareilles, friend and composer of the show’s music, texted them about joining the show, they jumped at the chance. “I wasn't even sure that it was a real text message,” Shapiro admits. But after rounds of auditions, working on scenes and making tapes in their L.A. home, “they offered it to both of us and we had three days to pack up our house,” Lowes says as their son, Albee, makes himself heard in the background. “And here we are in Times Square feeding our nine-month-old a day before we open.”
Now in New York City, Lowes and Shapiro also feel like they’re living out episodes of Smash, NBC’s short-lived musical drama starring McPhee as an ingénue competing for a starring role and her big break on Broadway. “Every step of the way of this rehearsal process has felt like Smash,” Shapiro says of working out of Pearl Studios, where a number of productions practice. “There are people running through the hallways in flapper dresses and tap shoes, and you can overhear crazy bravados,” Lowes adds.
But if there’s a “dream Smash moment” for Shapiro, he jokes: “I want to throw a full martini on somebody at Sardi’s.”
Jokes aside, there’ll also be chances for mini Scandal reunions once Kerry Washington returns to Broadway in American Son, which opens in previews on Oct. 6, overlapping with Lowes and Shapiro’s time in Waitress. “Everyone is tag-teaming,” Lowes says of her co-stars, who are planning trips to New York City to see them both.
While this is not the first time the couple has worked together -- appearing on Scandal and in the movie Café -- this time around, the project hits closer to home. Smitten with Dawn after a blind date, Ogie looks for her at Joe’s Diner, where she’s works alongside Jenna. It’s there he performs the showstopping number “Never Ever Getting Rid of Me” as he attempts to win her over. By the second act, the two characters, now married, sing “I Love You Like a Table” during their reception.
“It reminds us of our wedding day,” says Shapiro, who admits that he used to hang around the restaurant where Lowes waitressed when they started dating. The two eventually got married in 2012 in a ceremony held at a Berkshires sleepaway camp in western Massachusetts, where they had a variety show instead of a rehearsal dinner. That’s all to say it had a rustic, small-town feel with its own theatrical elements.
And now they get to relive that moment eight times a week.
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