Having been flown in from the USA to take on the role of Jenna in London’s West End production of Waitress, following the illness of Lucie Jones and both understudies, Desi Oakley talks to LondonTheatreDirect about saving the day.

You made your West End debut and saved the London production of Waitress all in one stroke! How was that experience?

I cannot express how special this entire experience has been – I’ll try with a few words I would use to describe it: magical, surreal, awakening, inspiring, and meant-to-be. I didn’t realize how much I would need this. It all fell into place, the company embraced me with open arms, held me up so I could soar, and the audiences and fans have been so loving. It’s a dream come true, to say the least.

You played the original Jenna in the US tour of Waitress; how did it feel to put on the apron again?

I did – it comes so easily in the way that I know the bones and heartbeat of the show, it’s engraved in my spirit – and Jenna is like a return home.

Now that you’ve made your West End debut (in the most whirlwind way possible), are you wanting to return to the London stage at another point?

WHERE DO I SIGN? It is now my personal mission to return to London in any/every way possible! I fell in love with the city, the people, the West End, and the entire experience. I already cannot wait to return.

After you finished playing Jenna in the Waitress US tour, you released your second solo album?! Is being a singer/songwriter a path you always wanted to take? And how do you fit that in with your musical theatre career?

Thank you for asking this! My writing is so important to me. It’s always been a passion – and I’ve decided most recently in my life that I can pursue both songwriting and performing on Broadway with the same amount of gusto. There are plans for a Christmas album 2020, and more, more, more to come!

You’ve just saved the West End Waitress production, after flying over especially, but what’s next for you?

We’ll see – I’ve got several irons in the fire. But after starting 2020 and the new decade this way, I’m convinced that anything can happen. And that’s an amazing feeling.