Joanna Ampil signed up to play Jenna in “Waitress” because she believes in the ingredients that make the hit musical powerful and potent.
In an interview, the awarded actress said she likes it that the story showcases women empowerment, mother-and-daughter relationships, and friendship and bonding.
“The Waitress” is about a pie baker who, despite the mundanity and disillusionment of her life, still finds comfort and reckoning in the simple magic of making pies. With her two friends Dawn and Becky, she builds the courage to change her own destiny for the better.
“Her story is quite convoluted but at the heart of it all is a woman finding her strength back and knowing that it’s never too late to achieve what she deserves in life,” she said to that effect.
Joanna has never seen the musical on Broadway. But she certainly likes the soundtrack with songs written by pop singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles of the hit “Love Song.”
“After hearing the musical score of Sara, I became extremely excited,” she admitted. “And as it turns out, the script is very rich with very colorful characters. It’s nice to be challenged again as actress by something so enormous.”
Asked if she auditioned for the role, Joanna said she didn’t but she believes it is because Bobby Garcia, the director of the musical in this Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group, already knows her work.
The two worked previously together on “The Bridges Of Madison County.”
“He knows what my capabilities are,” she said.
In a release, Bobby was quoted to have said that he has always wanted Joanna to play Jenna, except that he wasn’t sure they would be able to get the actress as she is touring “Cats” internationally. Thankfully, the universe conspired to give them what they wanted and they were able to work out getting her to Manila in time for rehearsals.
The director finds Joanna “one of the finest musical theatre performers we have in the country.”
“And it is always a joy to come into rehearsals and work with her on creating a character and telling a story. I suspect she will, once again, be unforgettable,” he said.
Same yet different
Joanna relates to Jenna as both are “survivors.”
She has a lot in common with the chqracter. One of these is pursuing their true passion.
“For her it’s baking and for me it’s singing and acting,” she maintained.
Does she know how to bake? Joanna laughed, admitting she stays away from the kitchen. Always on tour, Joanna neither knows nor has time to cook.
“I tried cooking but unfortunately I poisoned few people in the past,” she joked. “I’m no good but I think I will try and go to baking class perhaps while doing this just to give me idea on how to move my fingers with the dough and things like that.”
With the show tackling motherhood too, Joanna was asked how that works for her seeing she has no kids.
“I’m not a mother yet but I played a lot of mother roles. I do it via substitution,” she enthused. “Having a baby, I know it’s so precious and so special and there are a lot of people who are very special to me so you kinda use that to substitute.”
Joanna’s favorite song in the musical is “She Used to Be Mine.”
“It’s full of emotions. It feeds you so much depth. It’s a stand-alone song. It’s a story by itself,” she said. “You will be able to learn a lot of things with that song alone.”
She divulged that the first line which goes “It’s not simple to say,” is most striking for her. During rehearsals, she often needs to control her emotions as she gets swayed by it.
“Waitress” will start its run in Manila in November.
Before that, in October, Joanna will finish her contract as the glamour cat Grizabella in West End’s “Cats” tour.
Asked if she’s ever thought of starring on a local soap, Joanna said yes.
“I think when you’re artist you just go for it. And if it’s gonna be hard or challenging the more I go for it,” she explained.
“More than anything, I wanna learn. I wanna experience it, I wanna see how they work it here, how they do it here.”
Just recently, Joanna recorded a revival duet of “Hindi Magbabago” with Randy Santiago. Then up ahead for the actress is a major concert.
Joanna has been on an award-winning streak for her critically acclaimed portrayal of Candida in the film “Ang Larawan.” She most recently won the highly coveted URIAN award for Best Actress. She has performed in London’s West End in musicals such as “Miss Saigon,” “Les Misérables,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and “Avenue Q,” to name a few.