Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

MAXA The Musical's 'Strange Power' Video To Be Released On Halloween, Starring L Morgan Lee And Yansa Fatima

Article Pixel

MAXA is an epic rock horror musical capturing the life story of Paula Maxa, the famed French tragedienne.

The musical MAXA, The Maddest Woman in the World, was awarded a residency slot at The Center at West Park. Given the circumstances of COVID-19, director Daniella Caggiano was determined to utilize this historic Presbyterian church to its fullest extent. "Originally, we were going to present a live performance of MAXA, but because of the Coronavirus, we're not having an audience; instead, we decided to make a music video."

Watch the teaser trailer for "Strange Power" below!

When it came to choosing the song for the music video, the team unanimously agreed on "Strange Power." "I think a lot of our audiences can relate to it, this struggle around having a life full of hardship, trauma and terrible experiences, not knowing how to turn your pain into power, and suddenly finding your way to do that," says Caggiano. "This song is about taking the things that have brought you down and dancing on their graves."

MAXA is an epic rock horror musical capturing the life story of Paula Maxa, the famed French tragedienne who died thousands of deaths for the patrons who haunted the infamously bloody theater known as the Grand Guignol. The story is a heartfelt, shrewd examination of the timeless struggle between trauma and healing, exemplified by bookwriter and lyricist Mika Kauffman's brilliant wordplay of levity and macabre, as well as composer Thomas Jacobsen's complex, sweeping orchestrations with a contemporary electronic score.

"I could not be more grateful to the Center at West Park for granting us this residency" Jacobsen says, "having songs like 'Strange Power' swirling around in your head for two years, then being able to hear it and see it come to life in the voices and bodies of these incredible performers guided by such beautiful and haunting direction with choreography too fabulous to put into words - it's simply the biggest honor for a composer."

Choreographer Kemar Jewel was especially thrilled by the selection. "'Strange Power' allows me to tap into elements of dance that you normally don't see in musical theatre, like vogue, a style created by Black, queer and trans people from Harlem decades and decades ago. With video, you get to see very intricate things that you probably wouldn't have noticed before with shows onstage, all the colors, body movements and exaggerated poses - It's exciting."

"I am the most excited about being drenched in blood," said Yansa Fatima, who plays Younger Paula Maxa. "I am also floored by the people, the cast and the crew - I love seeing bodies of all different sizes, different skin colors, different genders, everyone coming together and creating this story. These people exist, these people have lives, and we get to show our audiences that." Kauffman is especially firm about visibility and accessibility through a digital platform during COVID-19: "Right now is our chance to innovate the theatrical landscape by making a moment like this available to audiences - as a trans artist, it's especially important to me that we feature queer, transgender and gender nonconforming folks in both our cast and crew in the most thrilling and celebratory fashion."

Doing this project during a pandemic is not without its hurdles, but Caggiano and the team found a way to make it work safely and efficiently. "We've been taking everyone's temperatures at the door, we've been filling out health screening forms everyday, and we are wearing masks, all day everyday," said Caggiano. "We only take masks off for filming, abiding by all New York State film guidelines around COVID-19."

Even in the midst of a global pandemic, L Morgan Lee who plays the older version of Paula Maxa is especially optimistic about the future of theatre. "There is this mindset that theatre is dead and that our business is over, but I have never felt like there was more of a pulse under the city and under the business than during this time," Lee said. "With MAXA, the team took this residency and they have held to the guidelines. It's no fun having masks on all the time, it's no fun not being able to love on each other like we're usually able to, but I am going to tell you, just being in a space and knowing that we are here to create something beautiful, to create art together, it's really satisfying for my soul. How are we innovating theatre in the time of COVID-19? Carefully, with respect, and with all our hearts."

The music video will be released on Halloween, October 31st, at 8pm. There will be a viewing party available on social media (follow on facebook, www.facebook.com/maxamusical).

The cast includes L Morgan Lee (Older Paula Maxa), Yansa Fatima (Younger Paula Maxa), Joshua D. Simpson, Maybe Burke, Dana Aber, Siobhan Beckett, MiMi Scardulla, Arjun Dhawan, Tatiana Wechsler, Stevie Jae Davis, Parker Wallis, and Joey Kipp, with additional vocals by Dexter Warren, Laurel Anderson and Joe Raik.

The production team includes Xiaoyu Yang (music video producer and video editor), Lee C. Zhang (director of photography), Daniella Caggiano (director), Andrew Drannon (music director and audio engineer), Kemar Jewel (choreographer), Otis Peña (assistant choreographer), Mika Kauffman (bookwriter/lyricist and co-producer), Thomas Jacobsen (composer and orchestrator), Theodore Teris (co-producer), Jay McMichael (co-producer), Imani Denson-Pittman (lighting designer), Siobhan Beckett (lead makeup artist and special fx designer), Dana Aber (makeup artist) and Ian Andrews (costume designer). Additional costuming provided by Kate Goldwater of AuH2O Thriftique and James Jackson Jr.

Please click here for more information on how you can become part of MAXA's journey. For more information about MAXA, please visit the official website, www.maxamusical.com.


Related Articles View More Off-Broadway Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You