Lucie Jones is maybe best-known for representing the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest, where she performed to over 200million people across the globe, but she has also been accruing critical acclaim for roles in theatre, including the most recent Legally Blonde tour, Les Misérables and, most recently, LMTO’s Girlfriends.

She recently made her debut as Jenna, the lead role in Waitress, whilst Katharine McPhee was on vacation in the USA, and will officially take over on 17 June. Lucie has been long-associated with the show, having played Jenna in a Broadway photoshoot, alongside Joey McIntyre, photos from which were used on billboards and flyers across New York. She spoke to BroadwayWorld about joining the cast as Jenna.

You’re finally able to officially announce you’re Jenna! How have your first few shows been?

Yay! It’s unbelievable. I honestly can’t believe my luck that I’m here. It’s been such an ongoing thing for so long. I’ve seen the show a couple of times and it’s just beautiful. I knew I was going to love being in it but you cannot believe the feeling I get playing this role. She is just such a real flawed character and I can’t explain to you how cathartic it is to play someone like her – and with these songs as well, it’s just an absolute joy.

How has the process of joining the show been?

I’ve heard so many rumours about myself over the past few months, none of which came from me. None of them are true. I’ve been on a billboard in Times Square! My friend texted me saying “Congratulations on your Broadway debut!” and I was so confused! I was very nervous coming in to rehearse by myself. I’m the first British actress to play the role, which is a huge thing for me, but the second I was with the cast, I felt completely supported and protected by them. The first time I heard “Sugar, butter, flour…” while on the stage, I just couldn’t keep it together. It’s just an amazing feeling and I can’t wait to do it all the time from next month.

How much preparation did you get before your debut?

I did some rehearsal by myself and then a couple of sessions with the swings and covers, and then a dress rehearsal with the principals on the day I went on. I was prepared. There were a lot of rumours going around about me being “thrown on”, but that was because the show hadn’t announced I was doing it. Now, I think that’s me “in” the show and I’ll get notes etc., but I think that’s it before I take over. I imagine I’ll be in rehearsals with Ashley over the next few weeks once Kat comes back into the show. Throughout the rehearsal process I tried to do a lot of research into the kind of woman that Jenna is. She’s in an abusive relationship; she has an unwanted pregnancy; she ends up having an affair… She’s a small-town girl with a rare “get me out of here” mentality, so I did a lot of research into those kinds of characters. I also spoke to real women who have been in these situations. I really hope I can bring as much truth to the role as I can and that that really comes across in my performance.

What made you want to be a part of Waitress?

I saw the show in New York and it just broke me. It’s just incredible and so funny. People don’t expect it to be so funny and that they laugh so much. It’s just hilarious, but at the same time it makes you cry. You come out wanting to be a better person, and for me, that’s what it’s all about really. I also love Sara Bareilles. She’s just amazing. I’m a little bit too much of a fan, if you know what I mean. I was shaking so much before I went in to do my audition in front of her. Somehow, I managed to stay cool the whole time during the audition and afterwards when she said “Thank you so much for coming in” I came out with “CAN I JUST SAY…” and completely fan-girled. Not cool. SO not cool. I also met Carole King that day – it was quite the day.

Have you been a fan of Sara’s music for a while?

Absolutely. As soon as she opens her mouth this amazing sound comes out. If you haven’t, you must read her book  that she’s written about why she wrote some of her songs. The audiobook is fantastic. She reads it and actually sings a bit of each song at the start of each chapter. I’m not a stalker, I swear!

What’s your favourite thing about playing Jenna? 

She’s just so “wow”. She just so strong. It’s just such a treat to play someone so real. You rarely get to play these flawed characters who have real lives and real problems. We’re talking about true stuff. We’re talking about abusive relationships, unwanted pregnancy and affairs, and you don’t get to play with this stuff very often. And then, when you do, it’s usually so over the top, or strangely written, that you can’t relate to it. With this show, however, everyone who’s seen the show that I know and from what I’ve seen on social media talk about how they relate to it in so many ways – more than they could have ever thought possible for a musical – and that really resonates with me. And so I couldn’t wait to do it. The last role I played on stage was Elle Woods in Legally Blonde and she’s all “Omigod, you guys!” and everything, whereas now I get to sing “She Used To Be Mine” every night, which is the polar opposite! That said, there are still themes of girl power and the friendship between the three women, so there is still a weird similarity there to Legally Blonde. The role is just a gift. I don’t know many people who wouldn’t want to play it. I’m so lucky. I also love to sing it. I genuinely love it and hope that comes across. It’s such an amazing show.

Do you have a favourite moment of the show?

I honestly can’t pick one. I really do love the whole show. It’s so beautifully crafted and the songs are all great. There’s no dip. I didn’t check my watch once when I saw the show – it doesn’t have those moments. You’re with the characters from the very get go and you feel like you really know them and it’s just great.

How are you finding all the slick choreography with the baking ingredients?

Isn’t the choreography amazing? When I watched it, I thought “That’s so cool, and so slick!”. When I was told it would take me some time to learn because of the number of props, I didn’t think it would be hard because of how slick it was. I didn’t quite realise just how specific every single thing is just to the moment. The sugar, the butter… and the flour, of course! When I started rehearsing “A Soft Place To Land”, my head was completely befuddled because, on the one hand, you’re singing in this dreamlike quality, but everything with the ingredients has to be so precise. You’re asking for things, placing things down bowls from different racks, and navigating around different cast members – all while remembering the words too! Now that I know where to put the bowls etc., I can now engage more with the acting. The first time I did the show I was so lost, thinking “What am I doing?!”, but the cast thankfully helped me through it.

Why should people come and see your Jenna?

My Jenna’s quite different from Kat’s. I saw her Jenna a couple of times during rehearsals and we’re just entirely different actresses, which is no criticism. I think she’s amazing and her voice is incredible. I definitely play her a bit feistier than Kat’s Jenna and that’s purely a choice that she’s made to play her in a different way. I’m not saying that’s a positive or a negative. I’d never want to compare her to anyone. I also saw Sara in New York and I completely fell in love with her Jenna, again totally different. She knows the show and the story so well and she crafted the thing! It’s her baby, pardon the pun, so that was a very special experience for me to see that performance.

Are you a baker? Do you have a favourite pie flavour?

I don’t actually bake that much! My mum and I used to make little cupcakes when I was little, but I can’t say if they were particularly good or not. My favourite pie is mermaid marshmallow. Genuinely, it’s the pie that’s only made by this incredible woman I play.