Katie Lowes and Adam Shapiro on Joining 'Waitress' on Broadway: 'It's Equal Parts Terrifying and Really Exciting'

107

The real-life couple recently made their Broadway debuts as Dawn and Ogie

When Katie Lowes was a struggling actress, she worked as a waitress at a bevy New York City theater-district restaurants and routinely experienced the rush hungry Broadway fans who’d leave in time to catch that evening’s crop shows. Now, the actress, who’s since made a name for herself as a star ABC’s Scandal, has returned to her roots as a waitress on Broadway... albeit this time is a little different.

Last week, Lowes and her husband, the actor Adam Shapiro, made their Great White Way debut by joining the company Waitress and stepping into the roles the goy fictional couple Dawn and Ogie. The irony isn't lost on the real-life pair, who met in New York City before decamping to Los Angeles and founding the IAMA Theatre Company -- only to be lured back to the Big Apple by a text from friend and Waitress mastermind Sara Bareilles asking if they would join the show.

Below, Lowes and Shapiro tell Billboard about their path to the Broadway stage, their longtime love  the hit musical, and how they’re navigating their new hectic schedule.

You’re both debuting on Broadway and caring for a nine-month-old at the same time. How have you managed having such a full plate? Was it the kind thing where you both were like, life is short?

Adam Shapiro: I think we’re good parents, but we didn’t even consider it. Laughs] It was like, "We’re going to Broadway, bringing our baby, and figuring it out once we get there!"

Katie Lowes: We got the gig four days before we moved here. We threw our crap in bags and asked our nanny if she wanted to come to New York for three months, and she said yes. I’m from New York, and Adam is from Philadelphia, so all our family is here and has been super helpful. It’s been all-hands-on-deck because we’ve gone through the most insane and exciting ten-day rehearsal period ever. After going through this experience, Adam and I are bowing down to these Broadway actors. The Waitress company is so hard-working, talented, and unbelievable.

So how did this opportunity come about? Katie, you went from Scandal to this, which is just a little, tiny bit different. Were you looking for something that was the polar opposite?

Shapiro: Well, our lives are kind like a musical. We’re obsessed with musical theater, so it’s not too much different than what we do all day long in real life]. We knew a couple people involved in Waitress, including Sara Bareilles and the producer Michael Roiff, who I’ve done a couple films with.

Lowes: I’ve known Sara for a very long time, probably 15 years. About two weeks ago we woke up to a text from Sara saying, ‘How would you feel about debuting on Broadway as Dawn and Ogie?’ We are such huge Waitress fans ourselves -- we’ve seen the musical so many times and always sing the soundtrack in the car. We auditioned a bunch times, sent in tapes, and got the fer only two weeks before our debut.

Shapiro: It wasn’t something we were looking for, it just came out the blue. It was always a dream in our minds that we hoped would happen someday. When it happened, it happened quick.

Since you know the music so well, what songs are you most looking forward to performing?

Shapiro: We’re really looking forward to singing the song during the curtain call because then we’ll know we made it through!

Lowes: That will be when I drop down on the floor and thank the theater gods. I can’t wait for “Bad Idea (Reprise),” and we love “Love You Like a Table” because it’s us getting married eight times a week.

Shapiro: When I first met Katie, she was a waitress, and I would hang out in her restaurant, which is basically exactly our first scene together in the play.

Lowes: My dad said, "Katie, you left New York City 12 years ago as a waitress, and now you’re back to being one again."

That’s amazing. Where did you work, Katie?

Lowes: I first started out at BB King’s Jazz and Blues Club. And for years I worked in a restaurant that closed a few years ago called Cafe Cello on 8th Avenue between 52nd and 53rd. It was a big theater-district hangout and a great gig because everyone would slam the restaurants and then be gone by 7:45, so it’s so crazy that now I actually get to be on Broadway.

Did either you speak to Caitlin Houlahan] or Christopher Fitzgerald] before stepping into the roles?

Shapiro: Those two are absolute legends. We’ve seen the show so many times that the hardest part about doing this for us has been the fact that we love the show so much and that Dawn and Ogie are Caitlin and Christopher. It feels like we should just sit in the audience and watch them!

Lowes: Which we did about eight times in the past 12 days. We had a run where we ran backstage around with them, and they kind showed us around, which is part it as well. They’ve been working with us all week, showing us all little tips and hints about] how to do this well. They’re so awesome.

Shapiro: I couldn't ask for anything more. It’s my first time on Broadway, and I get to follow around the guy who’s been nominated for multiple Tonies and is just a complete genius. It’s equal parts terrifying and really exciting.

I know you also co-founded the IAMA Theatre Company back in Los Angeles. Are you still involved now that you’re in New York doing double duty? It seems like you’re experiencing the manifest destiny theater.

Lowes: We’re still very involved! I’m the co-artistic director with two other artistic directors, so they’re watching our theater] baby while we’re here. And Adam is in charge social media, marketing, and the website. Once we have some free minutes during the day, those will be devoted to working on stuff for IAMA. I’m hoping I can meet some New York theater people who have any interest in LA theater and maybe will] come over and get on board with what we do!

Tell me about this juxtaposition going from acting for television to acting on stage. Which is more gratifying?

Lowes: I think my love will always be theater. It’s such an actor’s medium, and you get that immediate response from the audience, which you don’t get from TV or film. They’re really interesting because the challenges are really different. On TV, you get to try a scene a million different ways, and then it’s gone forever, while in the theater, you do the same scene over and over and over again and have to get it just right each time. It's a different skill set. Also, I kind prefer the television hours; I’m a morning person, so I like getting up at 5 o’clock in the morning instead going to work at 7 p.m. and being done at midnight.

Shapiro: For me, the biggest difference has been the snacks. In TV, there’s this huge area filled with snacks, and on Broadway, there are no snacks at all. You have to bring your own.

Really? There’s no craft services backstage?

Shapiro: Nope. And I’m in all this for the snacks.

Did you just blow the whistle on the "no craft services on Broadway" scandal?

Shapiro: I’m trying to change things. If there’s one thing I can do while I’m here in New York, it’d be to bring craft services to Broadway.