Amanda Kloots took to the Barrymore Theatre stage Thursday night during the opening night of Waitress to honor her late husband Nick Cordero, who died last year due to complications from COVID-19.
The performance marked the musical’s return amid Broadway’s fall re-opening, more than a year after the industry shut down due to the rapid, global spread of the coronavirus pandemic. After being introduced to the crowd during the curtain call by Waitress‘ lead actress, composer and lyricist Sara Bareilles, the duo and cast began to sing Cordero’s original song “Live Your Life,” inviting the audience to sing along.
The harmonious, emotional tribute followed the announcement that the musical would honor the late and beloved actor, who passed away in July 2020, in a special way, with those in attendance during the first night of the show’s limited Broadway run among the first to see it.
That honor came in the form of a pie name — specifically, “A Big Ol Slice of Live Your Life Pie” — that would become a permanent fixture on the diner’s menu board. In addition, both the Broadway show — which is scheduled to run through January 2022 — as well as the national tour will permanently feature a line referencing the “Live Your Life Pie,” a rep of the show confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
Cordero joined the cast of Waitress in March 2016, originating the role of Earl, the deadbeat husband of Jessie Mueller’s Jenna, for the show’s Broadway run before leaving to join the Broadway premiere of A Bronx Tale in November of that same year. The Tony-nominated Cordero was both a Theatre World Awards winner and Outer Critics Circle Award winner, and appeared in various Broadway, off-Broadway and touring productions, including Rock of Ages and Bullets Over Broadway, for which he was received Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations.
Kloots, who is currently a co-host of the CBS daytime show The Talk, shared her excitement about the tribute ahead of the show’s opening night. “BROADWAY IS BACK with a “big ol slice of Live Your Life pie!!!” she wrote in an Instagram post. “Heading to NYC for a very special opening night that will honor Nick!! Thank you to the whole @waitressmusical cast and crew for this special invite and tribute to the original Earl. I’m pretty confident that I will cry through the entire show but I can’t wait to be there.”
Kloots had been publicly chronicling her husband’s experience with COVID-19, which was originally diagnosed in late March 2020 as what was thought to be pneumonia. The Canadian actor and Broadway star spent weeks in intensive care at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and was put in a medically induced coma before having his right leg amputated. The family was hoping Cordero would receive a double-lung transplant before Kloots confirmed his passing, at age 41, on July 5, 2020.
The musical’s Instagram also celebrated the tribute ahead of the Broadway production’s opening night. “This week, we honored the memory of our beloved cast member Nick Cordero. His wife, @AmandaKloots, visited the diner as we unveiled the sign featuring “Live Your Life Pie.” This special pie name, and moment in the show, will be a permanent part of every Waitress production in the world.”