Suffs - Photo Joan Marcus
Suffs – Photo Joan Marcus

Feisty, funny and heartfelt, “Suffs” is this season’s best Broadway musical surprise. It chronicles how women battled for the basic right to vote.  Calling themselves ‘suffragists,’ or ‘suffs,’ not ‘suffragettes,’ the original activists were not only opposed by gender and generations but also by racial rigidities.

Opening with Carrie Chapman Catt (Jenn Colella) and the chorus warbling the rousing “Let Mother Vote,” reminding men: “We raised you after all/won’t you thank the lady you have loved since you were small…We reared you/cheered you/raised you when you fell/with your blessing, we could help America as well.”

Then there’s young, outspoken radical Alice Paul (Shaina Taub) of the National Women’s Party, trying to find common ground with non-confrontational rival Catt as well as workers’ rights spokeswoman Ruza Wenclawska (Kim Blanck) and Black historical icons like investigative journalist Ida B. Wells (Nikki M. James) and Mary Church Terrell (Anastacia McClosky), who refuse to be left behind. 

Let’s not forget flamboyant labor lawyer Inez Milholland (Hannah Cruz) and their generous benefactor Alva Belmont (Emily Skinner)…plus Grace McLean, hamming it up as President Woodrow Wilson, with Tsilala Brock as his dutiful assistant Dudley Malone, who eventually sides with the women.

The book, music and lyrics by Shaina Taub combine as a total statement that depends for its potency more on the sum of its parts than on the strength of any one component, especially the raucous, hilarious, show-stopping “G.A.B.”

Sadly, humor totally vanishes in the second act when earnest, assertive Alice Paul is arrested and thrown in jail where she goes on an extended hunger strike and additional setbacks arise.

After years in development and a 2022 Off-Broadway run at the Public Theater, “Suffs” has obviously evolved, becoming less didactic and adding former Presidential contender/Secretary-of-State Hillary Clinton and Nobel Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai as co-producers. 

The creative team includes director Leigh Silverman, choreographer Mayte Natalio, music supervisor/director Andres Grody, costumer Paul Tazewell, scenic designer Riccardo Hernandez and lighting expert Lap Chi Chu. Plus, the pit orchestra is entirely comprised of women musicians.

The timing is right for provocative “Suffs”. . . as those of us who can – go marching on.

Worst Sequels - Photos Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Marvel
Worst Sequels – Photos Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Marvel

If you feel that movie theaters are being inundated with reboots and sequels, you’re right. They’re everywhere – with more on the way!

Casino.ca recently did a Worst Movie Sequel Study, searching through more than 100,000 IMDb reviews for nine different negative keywords – including ”boring,” “waste” and “trash” – to decide which of the highest-grossing movie sequels are the all-time worst. 

Here are the results:

  1. Michael Bay’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction” 
  2. George Lucas’ “Star Wars Episode VII: The Last Jedi”
  3. James Bond’s “Skyfall”
  4. “Avengers” appeared three times, making it the worst-reviewed franchise

The primary reason reboots and sequels are made is simple: money. Filmmakers just take what worked in the original, sprinkle in some new twists with beloved characters and familiar settings – and you’ve got another installment.

Conversely, research has shown that when there’s a new film that no one knows anything about, something that doesn’t emanate from a popular novel, a completely new story, audiences may be reluctant to line up at the box-office.

So remakes are – generally – a safe bet. Since “Kung Fu Panda 4,” “Dune: Part Two,” “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire,” and “Gorilla vs. Kong: The New Empire” have already opened at local theaters, popcorn partisans are eagerly awaiting “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” and “Bad Boys 4.” 

Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, 2024 also beckons “Deadpool 3,” “Venom 3,” “Sonic the Hedgehog 3”, “Despicable Me 4,” “Beetlejuice 2,” “Inside Out 2,” “Twisters,” and “Gladiator 2.” 

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See all her reviews at www.susangranger.com.