She has been a first lady, a United States senator, a secretary of state, a Democratic nominee for president, and, most recently, a podcaster and a Columbia University professor.
Now Hillary Rodham Clinton is adding some razzle-dazzle to her résumé: She’s becoming a Broadway producer.
Clinton has joined the team backing “Suffs,” a new musical about the women’s suffrage movement, as has Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner. The producing team announced Wednesday that the show, which had an Off Broadway run last year at the Public Theater, will transfer to Broadway in the spring, opening at the Music Box Theater on April 18.
“Suffs” explores the early-20th-century struggle for women’s voting rights in the United States; the dramatic tension involves an intergenerational struggle over how best to hasten political change. The musical is a longtime passion project for the singer-songwriter Shaina Taub, who wrote the book, music and lyrics; Taub also starred in the Off Broadway production, but casting for the Broadway run has not yet been announced.
The musical is being directed by Leigh Silverman (“Violet”); the lead producers are Jill Furman (“Hamilton”) and Rachel Sussman (“Just for Us”). The show is being capitalized for up to $19.5 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission; Furman said the actual budget will be $19 million.
The Off Broadway production of “Suffs” opened to mixed reviews; in The New York Times, the critic Maya Phillips wrote that “the whole production feels so attuned to the gender politics and protests of today, so aware of possible critiques that it takes on its subject with an overabundance of caution.” But “Suffs” sold well, and Taub and the rest of the creative team have been reworking the show over the past year.
“We’ve done a lot of work on it — we’ve listened to the critics, and we listened to the audiences,” Furman said. In the months since the Public run, Furman and Sussman added, Taub has rewritten some songs, distilled the book, removed recitative and shortened the running time. “We feel really confident in what we’ve created,” Sussman said.
The lead producers said Clinton and Yousafzai would be ambassadors for the show, helping to promote it as well as offering input.
Clinton is a lifelong theater fan who, in the years since her bid for president, has become a frequent Broadway (and sometimes Off Broadway) theatergoer. Last year, a special performance of “Suffs” was held to raise money for groups including Onward Together, which she co-founded to support progressive causes and candidates; Clinton attended and participated in a talkback.
Yousafzai, an advocate for women’s education, also saw the show, and called it “amazing.”
“Suffs” is joining what is shaping up to be a robust season for new musicals on Broadway: It is the 11th new musical to announce an opening this season, with at least a few more still expected.
“The season is very crowded, and we recognize that,” Furman said, “but we think there is a market for this kind of story.”