Monday, 10 June 2019

INTEVRIEW: Maiya Quansah-Breed, currently in the cast of SIX at the Arts Theatre


Maiya is currently playing the role of Catherine Parr in the hit musical SIX at the Arts Theatre. Maiya trained at Guildford School of Acting. Theatre credits whilst training include: Exotica in ‘Cats’; Ronny in 'Hair'; Dottie in 'Nice Work If You Can Get It’ and Mrs Medlock in ‘The Secret Garden'. 

Tell us a bit about Catherine Parr’s Story. 

Catherine Parr was a sensational woman, strong, resilient and a women beyond her years and she wouldn’t have even realised. Catherine was twice widowed and after the death of her previous husbands, she was set to marry Thomas Seymour, the brother of Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife. However, Henry has other plans and set his eyes on Catherine and asked her to marry him; Henry’s previous marriages had been decided for him by politicians and people in power but in this case, Henry chose Catherine by himself to avoid further disappointments. And how could she say no to the king of England? That would be her death warrant signed, so she had no other option. Catherine’s Mother was also Catherine of Aragon’s lady in waiting and it is said to be that Catherine Parr was named after Catherine of Aragon, as she was her Godmother. Catherine Parr, was the first Queen in history to publish a book under her own name, ‘Prayers and Meditations’ and ‘The Lamentations of a Sinner’. Catherine was Henry’s sixth wife and she nursed him until his death. 

What kind of research did you do to prepare for the role? 

I had to do a lot of research into Catherine Parr’s life because I didn’t know anything about her and I watched the documentary that Lucy Worsley did about Henry VIII’s wives and I found that really helpful and informative.

How do you identify with the role? 

I think Catherine is a strong woman and she had an amazing mind and I like to think that I’m the same in some way. 

The Queenspiration for this role is Alicia Keys and Emeli Sandé, how did you take that inspiration and make it your own? 

I love giving hints of the Queenspiration into the characterisation of the part it is so much fun to play and I like to show Catherine’s vulnerability but also strength. 

This show has really catapulted into London and people are loving it! Why do you think it has been so successful? 

Because the story is universal! And it also helps that the songs are so catchy! but its story of six amazing women that should be heard and people love to hear it no matter their age, or gender everyone learns something from this show and I think that's the beauty of it. 

Lets go back to the start, how did you find out about the show? 

My friend Renee Lamb was playing Catherine of Aragon in the couple of workshop productions that they did at the Arts before the tour and I didn’t get to see it unfortunately but I knew some people going to see it and they raved about it, but in total honesty i didn’t know what it was about until going to my auditions! 

What was your audition like?

So much fun, I had never enjoyed an audition so much and I had never had people clap me when i finished a song in a audition before, it was such a lovely and welcoming atmosphere. 

This is your professional debut and what a debut its been! As this is
your first job since leaving drama school, how has it been handling all the attention the show has gotten?

Yes what a debut it has been! It’s been amazing, I couldn’t of asked for a better first job! it’s been opportunity after opportunity and I’m so grateful. It was overwhelming at first i wasn’t used to it, I couldn’t get over that people were looking up to me and complimenting me, i still don’t know how to take compliments! 

What’s been your highlight of the job so far? 

There have been so many! but West End Live was definitely one, and The Oliviers. 

You were recently nominated for an Olivier Award alongside you fellow Queens, congratulations! Tell us about how and where you found out.

Thank you! it was so surreal, i thought it was some kind of joke! i didn’t think it was real, it was like time had stopped! I had been at home for my day off and my Dad was taking me back to the station to come back to London and I was sat in the back and I didn’t see the video of the announcements but i didn’t need to because my social media blew up and so did our group chat, and it didn’t hit me at first, i just teared up because i couldn’t believe it, and then my agent called me and i still was in shock and it wasn’t till I got to the station and started to go up the steps that it hit me and i had what i can only call as a mini breakdown and started balling my eyes out! My Dad’s fiance grabbed me and gave me a massive hug as she started crying too and then my Dad set off too! it was all very emotional. 

What was it like representing SIX at the Olivier Awards?

Incredible, I couldn’t believe it was happening, the journey we have been on with this musical has been immense so to get to do that, i couldn’t believe it, it was a pinch me moment. 

Do you have any advice for those who would love to be in this show one day? 

Just have fun with it! 

If you could play any of the other Queens, which one would you play and why? 

It changes week to week! one week i want to play Catherine of Aragon and then another week i want to play Jane Seymour, I think all the parts are great. 

Why should people come and see Six? 

Because why not! let us entertain you for 75 minutes and have the time of your life, come and learn about this amazing women and escape for a bit with us!


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