• Broadway Beat

Paying Her Dues: Maren Morris Picks Up Shift at Ellen's Stardust Diner

by Caitlin Bitzegaio. @caitorade.

NEW YORK, NY - Grammy Award-winner Maren Morris has been sharing her Wicked casting journey on Twitter, announcing this summer that she got a callback after submitting a self-tape the same way hundreds of Broadway hopefuls do every year. Critics have pointed out that Morris might have a slight advantage in the casting process because she’s a certified platinum recording artist, leading Morris to pick up a shift at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, the Times Square eatery where many aspiring actors pay their dues.


“Yeah she said she wanted to earn her stripes as a ‘real musical theater wannabe’,” said brunch shift manager Ginger Snead in between cutting limes and leading vocal warmups. “I just wanted to know if she could operate a POS system. She said her assistant could probably do it for her.”


Servers from Ellen’s Stardust Diner have parlayed their singing waiter status into roles in Avenue Q, Jersey Boys, The Lion King, South Pacific, In The Heights, On The Town, and Godspell, but few have entered Ellen's realm with the pedigree of Morris.


“After my BFA from Carnegie Mellon, I started serving while I auditioned,” said waiter Chris Washington while marrying the ketchups Morris forgot about. “I think it’s cool that Maren is working here with us, but if I was her I’d probably just have my agent call the producers?”


Ellen’s Stardust Diner always has a long line of tourists waiting to get a table to see the waiters sing pop and Broadway standards while serving Fruity Pebbles Pancakes.


“I thought this was a great way to see a cheap Maren Morris concert,” explained tourist Hannah Dors from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who is one of Wicked-hopeful Morris’s 1.6 million Instagram followers. “But that was before I saw the cost of the Lenox Avenue Style Chicken & Waffles. Now I wish I’d just bought tickets to see her at The Fillmore.”


Morris may find her role as diner waitress is as competitive as the entertainment industry.


“She can have Grammys and she can have Elphaba,” declared veteran Ellen’s server Lenore Banks while staring out the window dramatically at the Christmas in New York store. “But she’ll never take my ‘Colors In The Wind’ solo to end lunch service.”