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'Waitress’ star Bailey McCall is reading ‘The Nightingale’

While touring with the Broadway hit, she says, she chooses books that are ‘a bit of an escape.’
Bailey McCall, center, plays Jenna, the title character in the touring company of 'Waitress.'
Bailey McCall, center, plays Jenna, the title character in the touring company of 'Waitress.' [ Jeremy Daniel ]
Published Jan. 10, 2020

Bailey McCall, 28, is heading to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota, where she will perform as Jenna in the three-night stand of Waitress, the musical featuring original music by Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles. When we caught up with McCall, a University of Tennessee graduate, she was in Ottawa, between performances at the National Arts Centre. “Jenna has been a dream role of mine, and for the last few years I’ve been familiarizing myself with the music and the character,’’ she said. “At the top of the show, she is very broken, and I think it is important to show her brokenness and then her courage and bravery and strength as she moves forward.’’ McCall also played Sally Bowles in the APEX national tour of Cabaret. Waitress will be presented Jan. 24-26;

What’s on your nightstand?

I’m reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I really am a one-book-at-a-time kind of person. A friend recommended it. I’m really excited to keep digging into it. It’s very good.

How do you pick books when you are on tour?

I think it is important to have something that is a bit of an escape, something that is outside of Waitress, outside the realm of the show. I think it is good to engulf myself in another story. This one can get heavy sometimes, so it’s not that I necessarily look for lighthearted reading. Often it is something that is recommended and passed along to me by another cast member.

Do you remember enjoying reading a particular play?

To be honest, I have a difficult time reading plays just for pleasure. I’m always thinking with an actor’s brain. For me, plays are meant to be performed. Even with Shakespeare; Shakespeare is amazing, but he wrote them to be acted out. I always think about what I would do on stage with a particular role.

Speaking of Shakespeare, what’s your favorite?

As You Like It. I think it is so charming and sweet and hilarious. It is fun to follow along. I think it is easily accessible.