Star of the original West End cast of Six, Maiya Quansah-Breed is about to embark on a new adventure as Alice in 'LIZZIE The Musical.'
Opening tonight at Hope Mill Theatre before going on a UK tour, I caught up with Maiya to find out more...
Welcome back to the Hope Mill! How does it feel to be back here again and what keeps you coming back?
Hope Mill is my second home at this point! I love the opportunities I get to do here; to be creative, and in a safe space where everything you do is valued. You get to work with INCREDIBLE people, and I have met life long friends too who make the job even more special.
For those who know nothing about it, what can you tell us about ‘LIZZIE The Musical’ and your role in it?
Lizzie the musical is the tale of Lizzie Borden, who in 1892 murdered her step mother and father with an Axe... well did she or didn’t she? It’s for you to decide. But she was in truth, acquitted of any charges and went to live on her life in Fall River, Massachusetts. Alice Russell was Lizzie’s next door neighbour and close friend who she confided in, and Alice sees a struggle in Lizzie and strives to help her see a different path.
With so much of the story surrounding Lizzie Borden’s story being shrouded in conspiracy, how did you go about preparing for the role?
Well, because this story is true and because there are records of the whole case, there are the transcripts of the inquest, trial, floor plans of the house, witness testimonies, the lot! There is so much to read, so much to absorb. But also at the same time there is little about Alice Russell, so I had to read between the lines and find what was said about her, or how she was described even if it was a little detail. But I also listened to the ‘Morbid’ podcast which was recorded inside the Borden household which is now a Bed and Breakfast.
I was lucky enough to attend the press preview for LIZZIE and the chemistry (and vo-cals) between you all was incredible! How was the rehearsal process been so far?
It’s been so fun! It’s gone by so fast! And now it’s opening night, which has flown by. I cannot believe how quickly the past couple of weeks have gone, and that we even did a press preview in the second week! It’s all happening, and it’s been amazing. We have all had so much fun.
We can’t talk and not mention Six. You recently regrouped with the other queens for a pro-shot. How was that, after not performing together for so long?
An incredible experience, and I honestly have to say it was the best 6 weeks of my life. I thought I had given the show everything I possibly could of. But getting to go back after so long, I was scared of whether I could still do it. I proved myself wrong, and I probably did it better than I ever did it before. As actors we never usually praise ourselves, but the work me and the girls did initially, and then getting to go back and do it again together, was incredible and I think we did such a good job.
It has been a crazy couple of years for you, since you made your stage debut in Six. What has been your career highlight so far?
It’s been a journey!! There has been so many pinch me moments. I think every job I have done so far has given me a pinch me moment. The Oliviers is definitely one, the final show of Six in the October of 2019, the first day of Rent rehearsals, performing at the palladium with Secret Garden... I just feel so lucky, there is so many moments that have me going; “is this really my life?”
You have already achieved so much, what are your aspirations from here?
This weird and wonderful career is such a path of unknown. I have no idea what the next 5 year or 10 years are going to bring. I just hope I’m still happy and healthy, those around me are the same, and I’m still getting to do the job I love.
A question we like to ask everyone; If there were no constraints on gender, appearance or age; what would be your absolute dream role(s)?
Ooo goodness what a question!! That’s actually so hard as I used to be like 'ooo I want to do this I want to do that!' And now I’m just excited at any role! If I had to choose I would say, Jimmy Early in Dreamgirls, that score for Jimmy is delicious !!
For those who don’t have a ticket yet, why should people make sure to catch LIZZIE on tour?
You’re honestly not going to want to miss it. It’s electric, loud, punk rock, and there is tune after tune! If you’re a murder mystery buff, it’s right up your street. There is also a cast of 4 women and a 4 piece strong band, giving it hell for leather every night. It’s a whole experience and I want everyone to experience it.
LIZZIE The Musical is on at Hope Mill Theatre from 1st September 2023 until 30th September 2023, before heading out on tour.