Those names belong to the characters in “Blood Sisters The Musical,” a theatrical production about a mother trying to raise her five daughters to not walk in the footsteps of their five fathers. It will be the first major play done by Queen Mother Productions — and, as with many things in this region, it all started at Disney.
The musical’s authors, Jacquelyn Graham and Malikah Harris, met when they were both performing at Festival of The Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. For the two actresses-turned-playwrights, this piece had its origins in their deep sense of faith, and in their desire to create something that was inspirational to other women.
“I want to empower women,” Harris said. “My focal point is no matter what you’re going through, God will get you through.”
She also fell in love with the work that went into creating this play, saying, “Overall, my passion is definitely writing. I’m finding more and more this is what I want to do.”
It was Harris who first came up with the idea of writing a musical about a woman and her five daughters. A native of New Jersey, Harris has been acting and writing since she was a child.
“I’m a song writer,” she said. “I’ve been writing songs since I was 14.”
Her experience eventually brought her to Orlando, where she started working at Festival of The Lion King. That’s where she met her future collaborator, Graham, a native Floridian who grew up in Gainesville and has also been in theater since she was barely out of diapers.
“I’ve been singing and performing since the age of four,” Graham said. “Mom was an evangelist, and I would tour with her.”
Harris came up with the idea for “Blood Sisters” one day, and she felt like God had reached out to her, and literally inspired her, to start working on it.
“I said ‘God, if you really want me to write this, you’re going to have to give me a team,’ “ Harris said. She remembers so clearly that she heard God tell her to work with Graham. She quickly approached her Lion King colleague and told her all about this conversation.
“I went to Jacquelyn and I said, ‘We’re going to go this Broadway show called ‘Blood Sisters,’ “ she recalled.
At first, Graham admits, she was skeptical.
“I said, ‘Oh God, I don’t want to do this with a crazy woman,’ “ she said. “I had to be convinced.”
Eventually, though, she was – in part because of her own deep faith in God.
“What convinced me was God,” she said. “I felt like God spoke to me that day. On that particular day, I felt like I heard God say, ‘You are going to work with her.’ When I told her this, she said, ‘Ok, it all fits together.’ So we started working, and writing, and we were on fire. We sat down one particular day and drew out what turned out to be the family tree. We sat down and we named these characters. As we worked on it, we discovered there are several different sides to this story. It’s one character’s speculation of how this family came to be.”
It took the two artists about eight months to write the play and the songs that make up the saga of Momma and her daughters. They found working together truly was a rewarding experience.
“We say this is a story inspired by God,” Graham said. “We were like, ‘Oh my God,’ finishing one another’s thoughts. It was really high energy. It was truly divine inspiration. Malikah is an amazing lyricist. She’s an amazing songwriter.”
“It all just meshed together,” said Harris. They also decided to turn the play into a novel called “Generational Curses.”
“It’s the journey of people’s lives,” she said. “I think that’s a part of life – we all want to figure out who we are.“
“It’s a story of redemption,” Graham added. “Mama, she is the main character, who has experienced so much heartache, so much abuse.”
It’s also a production with a lot of singing, and as Graham noted, “The music is really great and catchy.”
Now Queen Mother Productions is looking for actresses to bring this play to an audience, possibly by the end of the year in Orlando. They’re also considering bringing it to the Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival next May.
“I think it’s going to be an eye-opener for a lot of people,” Harris said.
To learn more about the upcoming auditions for “Blood Sisters,” email email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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