It was a night 18 months in the making.
"Waitress" reopened at The Barrymore Theater on Thursday night following an extended COVID shutdown with a special performance honoring the late Nick Cordero, an original cast member of the show who originated the role of Earl.
Masked crowds excited to witness live theater once again delivered a rapturous standing ovation at the conclusion of the show. Sara Bareilles, back in the leading role of Jenna, thanked the crowd and dedicated the first show back to Cordero.
The late actor and singer spent more than 90 days in the hospital battling COVID-19 before complications led to his death in 2020. He was 41.
"We wanted to take a moment to honor one person who is a part of our waitress family who is not with us anymore: Nick Cordero. He's a member of our original Broadway company and he is still a beautiful spirit and a beautiful soul and we hold him near and dear to our hearts," Bareilles said before welcoming his wife onstage.
The "Waitress" cast broke out into song, alongside Amanda Kloots, in an emotional tribute to the late performer. The company sang his single "Live Your Life," which is now part of the musical's set design.
Bareilles told the audience that every production will forever include a special dedication in the pie menu board: "a big ol' slice of live your life pie."
Cordero was best-known for his work on Broadway in musicals “A Bronx Tale”, “Waitress" and “ Bullets Over Broadway,” where he met Kloots. They married in 2017.
"Nick loved Broadway, he loved music and he loved acting. I think he'll be with my every day but he'll be with y'all every night," Kloots told the crowd.