SUFFS—Suffragists, Fighting for Voting Rights Regardless of Sex—Brings History to Broadway

Musical’s Creators Join with WFP at Talkback about How the Arts Are More than Entertainment

By: May. 04, 2024
SUFFS—Suffragists, Fighting for Voting Rights Regardless of Sex—Brings History to Broadway
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“A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” according to Disney’s “Mary Poppins.” The same thing seems to go for politics and the arts, if you look at vehicles like the new musical SUFFS, which is being given a bang-up production these days at the Music Box theatre on West 45 off Broadway about the fight by suffragists for the right to vote, regardless of sex. (An earlier version was at The Public Theatre downtown.) It was just nominated for a half dozen Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The other night, the Working Families Party (WFP)—which works outside the usual two-party political system with individuals, and partners in unions, community organizations and social movements—held a talkback after a performance, joined by several of SUFFS' creative team. The goal was to talk about how theatre and other arts forms are bringing history and current events to a broader audience than political forums can usually do by being entertaining as well as newsworthy.

Some of the creators of the show (including one of its stars, Shaina Taub, who also wrote it) spoke about how their family environments helped foster their love of the arts and what it could accomplish, along with WFP strategist Nelini Stamp, who spoke about how her organization is aligned with the goals of the arts. (She went to New York’s LaGuardia High School of Music & Art.)

SUFFS talks about voting rights for all as not just an historical issue but a continuing one. It seemed somewhat ironic that the talkback on Wednesday at the show—which has a pivotal scene that takes place as demonstrators for women’s rights to vote over a century ago were jailed for an extended period of time—occurred in a week when hell was breaking loose on college campuses as students (and others) were being jailed for demonstrating for peace in Gaza.

With a book, music and lyrics by Shaina Taub, SUFFS was directed by Leigh Silverman, choreography by Mayte Natalio, costumes by Paul Tazewell and musical supervision/direction by Andrea Grody. with an ensemble led by Taub, Nikki James, Emily Skinner, Jenn Colella, Kim Blanck and Hannah Cruz, among many others.