Waitress opens with the words ‘sugar, butter, flour,’ three essential ingredients of a pie, and three separate notes that converge into a dreamlike harmony. The scene rises on the protagonist, Jenna, a young woman in her 20s, standing before a kitchen counter and assembling a pie with great care and passion. This is a clearly intimate moment of peace and vulnerability for her within a chaotic life. While she makes the pie, she sings about the way combining ingredients in just the right way can help her sort through the disorganization of her thoughts, as she decides what to measure and what to risk. Jenna makes pies to see what can come of her own ideas, even though her life right now is stifling and completely out of her control (“What’s Inside”).
The scene quickly transitions into a busy day at Joe’s Pie Diner, where Jenna works and makes their popular homemade pies. She’s joined by her fellow waitresses, Becky and Dawn, and their boss, Cal, who cooks the food. The three women lovingly tease each other as they put on their aprons and prepare their smiles. The customers enter and in a flurry of activity we feel the typical morning of a waitress fly by. The breakfast rush keeps the ladies busy as Jenna sells slice after slice of her specialty pie of the day (“Opening Up”).
Joe, the diner’s owner, arrives for his morning slice of pie. Old and curmudgeonly, he badgers Jenna, the only one in the diner willing to bite back, as he orders, but she steps away from their bantering match suddenly feeling queasy. She's followed to the bathroom by Becky and Dawn who push away the insistent Cal and tell Jenna that it's time for her to take a pregnancy test, assuring her that it’s better to know, no matter the result. Jenna relays the possible ill-advised drunken night in a red dress when she might have become pregnant, and it’s revealed that she's desperate not to have a child with her husband Earl (“The Negative”)
When the test comes up positive, the ‘sugar, butter,