By: Talia Feldman  | 

“Suffs”the Musical: A Titillating Performance

History seemed to come alive in the new Broadway show “Suffs.” An intelligent and cleverly crafted play, “Suffs” opens in 1913, as the women’s movement for the right to vote was ramping up. Alice Paul, a fiery woman who will not wait for her moment, collects four other powerful women to lead the new revolution, calling for the voter rights of women across the country. Over the course of the play, the women, who call themselves “Suffs,” address the racial turmoil and class divides that hinder their movement. 

Meeting the actresses of “Suffs” at the stage door after the performance was a lovely experience. They are an all-women cast who commanded the stage with their piercing voices. They were stunning in their costumes and became even more inspiring when I met them in person. The actresses who I had seen rocking it out on stage were now just ordinary people, walking down the street with their friends. 

The palpable excitement while waiting outside the stage door was electric. I grabbed a selfie with Shaina Taub, who plays Alice Paul. Taub also wrote the lyrics and the music. Meeting her and hearing her story made me realize that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. This is her Broadway debut, and told us that she would love it if you could help her build up her audience. 

Brooke Kohl (SCW ‘26), a fellow Honors student, waited by the stage door with me and had a lot to say about meeting Kim Blanck, the actress who played Ruza Wenclawska. Blanck had blunt but hilarious humor; every time she opened her mouth, she never said something expected. Kohl professes that “From her line near the beginning of ‘I’m Polish, not stupid!’ to her breaking of the fourth wall near the end, Blanck did a magnificent job portraying Ruza, the fierce, headstrong, loyal woman who championed for women’s rights and, more specifically, immigrant women’s rights. Briefly meeting Blanck and the other actors after the show, who all greeted us with warm smiles, was an amazing end to the night.”

Grace McLean was next out the door, coming armed with a pen and her excitement. She was a ray of sunshine, who played the ‘villainous’ President Woodrow Wilson. Throughout the play, Wilson categorically denied every attempt of various women to obtain the right to vote. She portrayed Wilson as the villain in this story, and blew the audience away with laughter during her song “Ladies.”

The next actress in the lineup was Jaygee Macapugay, who plays Mollie Hay, Carrie Chapman Catt’s loyal friend. She gave us insight into the steamy scene at the end of the musical that implied that Hay and Catt were in love. Catt and Hay lead the National American Women’s Suffrage Association and were almost always together on stage. She told us that they are buried together in the Bronx, and their gravestones say “Here lie two, united in friendship for 38 years through constant service to a great cause.” Their chemistry on stage was remarkable. 

Hannah Cruz came out of the door next to a flurry of cheers. Playing Inez Milholland, she is even more beautiful up close than when she was on stage. She played Milholland with the dignity she deserved, and persevered when there was a slight mishap with the stage props, singing without fault or blunder.

The show concluded with the message the fight is never over, and that you too can bring change to the world. The closing song united the women together. It was a heartwarming play that showed the united front of women, but that the fight was still happening in the background. The white women got their vote, but the Black women would still have to hold out in the fight. One student summed it up perfectly: “It was one of the most incredible and inspiring shows I’ve ever seen on Broadway. It captured the true and daring story of a movement that every single American citizen benefits from today. It’s a must see for anyone looking for inspiration or a thoroughly entertaining musical.” These flawed women inspire and empower all of the nation to make their voice heard, and to never forget the people who fought before us. Those of us in the Honors program, who received the privilege of attending this show, will never forget it. 


Photo Caption: Stern Honors students attend “Suffs” on Broadway.

Photo Credit: Cynthia Wachtell