Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway!

This historic new musical from Shaina Taub opens tonight at the Music Box Theatre!

By: Apr. 18, 2024
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Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway!
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The fight for women's votes has made its way to Broadway in Suffs, a new musical from Shaina Taub, opening tonight at the Music Box Theatre!

Read the reviews below to see how the critics responded to this historic new musical!

Suffs boldly explores the victories and failures of a struggle for equality that's far from over. It's 1913 and the women's movement is heating up in America, anchored by the suffragists - "Suffs," as they call themselves - and their relentless pursuit of the right to vote. Reaching across and against generational, racial, and class divides, these brilliant, flawed women entertain and inspire us with the story of their hard-won victory in an ongoing fight. So much has changed since the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment over a century ago, and yet we're reminded sometimes we need to look back, in order to march fearlessly into the future.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Jesse Green, The New York Times: The Greeks are useful here, having made sure to embody injustice in emotion, and even song, not just instruction. Their theater depicted the way policy and character were inseparably bonded. As such, “Suffs” is already good, in both senses — a good show and good for the world. I even shed a few political tears. But to be great, a musical (like a great movement) must grab you by the throat. “Suffs” too often settles for holding up signs.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Johnny Oleksinki, The New York Post: The suffragist characters of the musical “Suffs,” which opened Thursday night at the Music Box Theatre, rarely take a breath to celebrate their victories. As soon as they achieve something monumental, such as securing a rare meeting with President Woodrow Wilson or finally getting the right to vote, another lofty goal appears on the horizon. Or there’s a dispiriting setback. They’re never done. They’ve gotta keep marching. Much the same could be said about the show, itself, written by and starring Shaina Taub. Even after a 2021 run at the Public Theater, which garnered less-than-enthusiastic reviews, and a later workshop to reshape it, “Suffs” still feels frustratingly unfinished.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Charles Isherwood, The Wall Street Journal: “Suffs” largely succeeds in showcasing the accomplishments of its creators and performers, particularly with regard to Ms. Taub’s rich and often rousing score and the terrific cast, all radiating vivid engagement in the history unfolding before us. Nevertheless, at times the musical comes across as a bright but exhaustingly busy historical pageant, with a dizzyingly broad cast of characters and manifold triumphs and setbacks—mostly the latter, in truth—to unfold.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Chris Jones, The New York Daily News: That’s not entirely inaccurate: The historical figures in the way of the likes of Alice Paul (Taub), Carrie Catt (Jen Colella) and Ida B. Wells (Nikki M. James) are buffoonish paper tigers devoid of argument or veracity. It makes this scrupulously egalitarian musical sometimes feels like it was first cleared by an intersectionality committee that made sure everyone was listed in strict alphabetical order, and that the key pieces of the musical, narrative power and authorial sympathy were doled out in equal shares. But, in the end, “Suffs” does what all of the best Broadway musicals do: It humanizes, empowers, entertains and moves an audience. Taub’s enormous talent — she is arguably the first woman ever to compose, write and star in the same Broadway musical — is the biggest single reason. She’s a fresh, relatively youthful musical voice and an assertive, empathetic and vulnerable star who, with the gentle help of director Leigh Silverman, brings just enough of contemporary womanhood into the story to take the musical out of the realm of class project or Wikipedia trot and more toward the center of why people pay big bucks for Broadway shows.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Elisabeth Vincentelli, The Washington Post: When the Shaina Taub musical “Suffs” premiered at the Public Theatre two years ago, covid plagued the company and even led to the cancellation of opening night. But those weren’t really the problem. Rather, the show, about the American suffragists’ fight to win the right to vote for women, suffered from self-inflicted wounds: It was a didactic, dull, overstuffed mess. That “Suffs” would come back, and on Broadway, too, wasn’t a thrilling prospect. And while it did not magically morph into a great show, Version 2.0 is tighter, more confident, often rousing and downright entertaining. We can only rejoice that the creative team, led by Taub, who wrote the book and score, and director Leigh Silverman, did not back down.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Nancy Durrant, The Times: Forget the world stage, what about Broadway? This is the route that Hillary Clinton has taken as the co-producer, with Malala Yousafzai, of Suffs, a thundering new musical by the singer and composer Shaina Taub about the American women’s suffrage movement.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Amelia Merrill, New York Theatre Guide: Suffs, now reworked for Broadway after a 2022 run at The Public Theater, features a cast full of newcomers all playing fictionalized versions of historical figures. The musical about the political infighting — between genders, generations, and races — on the long road to American women’s suffrage has memorable music, star-making performances, and an inspiring message with moments that tug at the heartstrings.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Robert Hofler, The Wrap: “Suffs” entertains because Taub makes her show all about the women, and she makes those women committed but very flawed individuals. Let’s not call them cat fights, but “Suffs” is filled with rivalries between the radical Alice Paul (Taub) of the National Woman’s Party and the more establishment-minded Carrie Chapman Catt (Jenn Colella) of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. An early controversy emerges regarding whether suffragists of color should be included in the march. Black icons like Mary Church Terrell (Anastaćia McCleskey) and Ida B. Wells (Nikki M. James, shedding her ingénue image to emerge as the show’s real matriarch) have no interest in being pushed aside or told yet again to wait. Intriguingly, the conflict between Terrell and Wells reflects the same conservative-progressive pull going on among the white leaders of the suffragist movement (“Suffragette” is considered derogatory).

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Regina Robbins, Time Out New York: The several new songs that Paul has added since the Off Broadway production add detail and color to the story, but sometimes risk stretching it too thin; happily, Silverman’s elegant and arresting staging—with major assists from Riccardo Hernández’s scenic design and Lap Chi Chu’s lighting—rewards our patience. When the full ensemble of seventeen female and nonbinary actors joins together to sing the elegy “How Long?”, it’s a powerful reminder that these women aren’t disinterested political operators: They’re fighting to be seen.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Joey Sims, Theatrely: The new musical, which opens tonight at the Music Box Theatre following a run at the Public downtown, is at its most invigorating when Taub hits on these collisions of the political and personal. But such moments are few and far between in this sprawling historical work, with book, music and lyrics by Taub, which traces the suffragist movement and the battle for a woman’s right to vote in the United States. The show is overburdened by too many characters and too much historical ground to cover, and Taub’s score often falls back on generic inspirational anthems instead of emotional specificity.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Roma Torre, New York Stage Review: It’s been nearly nine years since Hamilton took Broadway by storm, and now comes a worthy successor. Much like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tour de force, Suffs, short for suffragists, showcases the creative prowess of Shaina Taub, who assumes the roles of writer, composer, lyricist, and lead performer. But the comparison goes well beyond historical subject matter. Both productions seamlessly blend narrative and music while portraying determined individuals grappling with seemingly insurmountable challenges. While Hamilton chronicles Alexander Hamilton’s pivotal role in shaping the nation, Suffs sheds profound light on Alice Paul’s crusade for women’s suffrage.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Steven Suskin, New York Stage Review: There’s nothing wrong with this season’s crop of chronically ailing Broadway musicals, it turns out, that can’t be set right by a little talent. Well, make that a lot of talent, or even a whole lot of talent. Upon the well-worn heels of no less than 11 anemic new musicals comes Shaina Taub to Broadway’s rescue with the provocative, mirthful, entertaining, and irrepressibly rousing Suffs.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Michael Musto, Chelsea Community News : Having premiered at the Public Theater in 2022, Suffs is a winner, with a wonderful mixture of earnest storytelling, humor, and heart. Any fear that there’s no need for a story starting in 1913—not to mention one with an outcome that’s a “duh” when you enter—is shattered by the fact that women are still desperately fighting for their rights, particularly in the wake of SCOTUS’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Sadly, the protesting and screaming that’s essential to the narrative of Suffs seems very up to the moment and more topical than ever.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Brian Scott Lipton, Cititour: As a book writer, though, Taub can get a little too preachy and sanctimonious (much like Paul). Moreover, since the story is a bit A-to-B – and we already know how it ends – the piece could use some extra drama, especially in letting us know a bit more about the characters’ personal lives. And the piece still could use just a bit of judicious editing.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater: But much has changed in “Suffs,” almost all for the better: The show is more streamlined, more focused. At the same time, with the transfer to Broadway, my assessment has changed somewhat. “Suffs” on Broadway is likely to be sought out more for its inspiration and enlightenment than its entertainment.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Frank Rizzo, Variety: As writer, Taub smartly avoids the facile men-against-women tropes and digs deeper into internal challenges within the movement and within the women as individuals. Thanks to the specificity of the writing, music and lyrics and a remarkable ensemble of women and nonbinary actors, the multitude of characters in this densely packed historic narrative are, if not deeply, then at least reasonably well-defined and relatable with their personal doubts, fears and triumphs.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway! Sara Holdren, Vulture: The strains of something less than triumphant were always lurking in Hamilton, which begins with a fist-pump to the sky but ends with the plaintive question, “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” But just as young Alice had no time for sweetness, Suffs has no time for wistfulness as it nears its ending. That’s because it’s not an ending, and there isn’t one in sight. As one of her epigraphs, Taub quotes the Talmud: “You are not obliged to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” Suffs may send us back out into the world a little bruised, a little somber, but in no way defeated or alone.

Review Roundup: Shaina Taub's SUFFS Opens On Broadway!
Average Rating: 75.3%


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