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Using anti-suffrage propaganda to promote the musical ‘Suffs’

Producer Rachel Sussman and ad executive Callie Goff explain the strategy behind the bold front-of-house advertising at the Music Box Theatre.

A display case on the façade of the Music Box Theatre, where “Suffs” is playing (Credit: Ruthie Fierberg)

“Who will wash the dishes and raise the babies?” “My wife’s a suffragist and I’ve suffered ever since.” These are actual slogans from the anti-women’s suffrage movement that arose in the early 1900s to oppose the right for women to vote. They are also rallying cries plastered to the front-of-house of Broadway’s Music Box Theatre.

The Music Box is now the home of the musical “Suffs,” which began previews on March 26 ahead of an opening night of April 18. Set in America from 1913-1920, “Suffs” tells the true story of a group of women who fought for their right to vote. Using protest tactics that had not been seen in the United States and mobilizing at a time before even radio was pervasive, suffragists (shortened to “suffs”) clashed with the President, the public and one another in their quest for equality. 

“With a show like ‘Suffs’ — an original new musical based on a moment in history — we wanted to help create a real narrative so that audiences could understand what the suffs were up against,” producer Rachel Sussman told Broadway News. “We started asking ourselves what could we do to stand out in this busy season and also use our front of house as an opportunity to do more sort of subtle education around the show — as one of the only original new musicals with a title that can be confusing if folks don’t have the information on what it means.”

In collaboration with the advertising and marketing agency SpotCo, the producing team behind “Suffs” created a front-of-house display covered with quotes — not the usual ones from critics lauding the show, but real words of anti-women’s suffrage propaganda, lambasting the suffs themselves. 

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