Q & A with Maiesha McQueen from the WAITRESS
May 4, 2019
Senior Writer: Diana Brang-Scott
The WAITRESS is brought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by 6-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles ("Brave," "Love Song"), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam), choreography by Lorin Latarro (Les Dangereuse Liasons, Waiting For Godot) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin, Finding Neverland)
The WAITRESS is inspired by Adrienne Shelly's beloved 2007 film by the same name. WAITRESS tells the story of Jenna - a waitress in a small diner, and expert pie maker. Jenna dreams of a way out of her small town, and out of her loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county offering big prize money, and the town's new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start. All while her fellow waitresses (Becky and Dawn) offer their own recipes for happiness; Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Maiesha McQueen who has been part of the cast since 2017 and plays the part of Becky. Maiesha attended New York University/Tisch School of the Arts: and received BFA in Theatre (Music Theatre Concentration) and Fordham University: where she obtained her Master of Science in Teaching. Maiesha fell in love with theater at a young age and attended Tri-Cities Highschool a preforming arts school outside of Atlanta Georgia; this is where she met her drama teacher and mentor Mr. Freddie Hendricks. Freddie is also the Founder and Artistic Director of Youth Ensemble of Atlanta, (A premiere African-American youth theatre company) Maiesha was also involved with this organization and says that, “Freddie gave me a level of empowerment and confidence, that I still carry today through encouraging us to use our voices and tell our own stories.” She went on saying, “We as young people would write our own musicals about issues that were important in the community or the global community. We would write about Apartheid in South Africa, gun violence in America, the HIV AIDS epidemic. I grew up with the understanding that we have the power to tell own stories, I think too often young people especially in this business are told that they have to fit into a specific mold, and I was so fortunate to be exposed to all of this at such an early age, it has shaped who I am.” I reached out to Freddie at the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta and he said, “I am so very proud of Maiesha, the first time I heard her voice I knew that she was destined for greatness. She is such a beautiful spirit and talent; greatness truly lives in Maiesha.”
Maiesha loves the Waitress and believes its staying power is because, “This musical tells a seemly everyday story, that everyone can relate to. It doesn’t have over the top glittering sets, or automation, the audience doesn’t need to use their imagination to travel to a made-up land, this town and diner can be in every city of America. We as people are all made up of complicated experiences, our unique ingredients so, what makes this musical so very special and magical, is the story itself and the beautiful music that Sara Bareilles wrote to accompany it.”
Broadway in Cincinnati caught up with singer, song writer Sara Bareilles and asked her, what about the original movie WAITRESS resonated with her and made her want to write the music for this? She said, “When I watched Adrienne Shelley’s film, I came away with such a sense of her humanity, and I loved that it was ‘messy.’ I loved that the world she created was not made of black and white, heroes and villains. There is basically no one in this show who is all one thing or the other, and that feels like an honest reflection of life to me. So, it was nice to get to try to carve out a deeper sense of soulful storytelling on the characters’ behalf with music in a way that spoke to that. It’s complicated – which felt very human to me, and I love that.”
I asked Maiesha if there was a message for the audience with the show? She said, “Yes, there are a few and, I think most people will walk away with what resonates with them the most, but I hope it truely gives people the permission to celebrate their own humanity, and their own imperfections. I hope the story helps them to find beauty in their own individual journey.”
Come out and see Maiesha and the entire cast of WAITRESS including two young local actresses to take on the role of “Lulu” during the Detroit engagement, Leyna Harris, age 4, of Birmingham, and Caroline Hubbard, age 5, of Chelsea, will alternate the role of “Lulu,” the daughter of the production’s main character, Jenna.
The WAITRESS opens at Detroit’s own Fisher Theatre May 7th -19th. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at or www.ticketmaster.com, and also by phone at 800-982-2787.