Alice Paul is a young radical.
Carrie Chapman Catt is a seasoned organizer.

This inspirational and absorbing true story dramatizes their struggles against the government, society, and each other. It is a hard-fought battle with both women moving towards a shared goal: winning the vote.

Directed by Rachel Klein
Book + Lyrics by Cavan Hallman
Music by Nancy Hill Cobb

World Premiere | Summer 2021 | Cedar Falls, IA
Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center
July 16 at 7 p.m.
July 17 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
July 18 at 2 p.m.


A black and white image of actress Nancy Opel wearing a black top and smiling softly at the camera.
Cathryn Wake BW
McDonald BW
Waggoner BW

Nancy Opel, Carrie Chapman Catt
Tony®-Nominated Actress

Starring as Carrie Chapman Catt, celebrated Broadway actress Nancy Opel will take the stage for the premiere in July. “As a storyteller in a world turned upside down, I am grateful to be working on a piece about significant, necessary change. It's an honor to be working with Nancy Opel on this vital story from history," said director Rachel Klein. "She's an incredible talent and a thoughtful actor, and I have no doubt that her performance will inspire and educate audiences about this campaign, fought before our time."

Learn more about Nancy

Cathryn Wake, Alice Paul
Broadway Actress

Broadway singer and actress Cathryn Wake will star as Alice Paul, a vocal leader who advocated for and helped secure passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, granting women the right to vote. “I am thrilled that a singer/actor of Cathryn Wake’s experience has joined the production to play the role of Alice Paul in The Suffragist. She brings just the right qualities to play this revolutionary woman who made such a difference in women’s lives through her persistence in the suffrage fight,” says executive producer, Nancy Hill Cobb.

MaKayla McDonald, Ida B. Wells
Up-and-coming New York singer

Waterloo native and UNI alumna MaKayla McDonald will take to the stage as Ida B. Wells, an American investigative journalist, educator and early leader in the civil rights movement. “Ida B. Wells’ work as an anti-lynching, anti-racist, and pro-Black activist laid the foundation for the continued work today. Her bravery was born out of necessity,” says McDonald. “Wells’ career as a founding member of both the NACW and NAACP, an investigative journalist, and suffragist for African American women is iconic and history-making. “The Suffragist” illuminates her message well and I’m eager and excited to tell her story!”

Joel Waggoner, Woodrow Wilson/Doctor
Broadway Veteran

Waterloo native, UNI alumnus and Broadway veteran Joel Waggoner will return to the Cedar Valley stage doubling as Woodrow Wilson and Doctor. As President, Wilson spent a number of years fending off the activists who wanted an amendment added to the United States Constitution that would make it the law of the land that women could vote.


Alice Paul was a bold iconoclast challenging conventions of femininity, leadership, and the Quaker ideals of her upbringing. She organized the first ever protests outside the White House, for which she was fined, jailed, and subjected to over twenty force-feedings at the hands of the US government. A relentless champion of women,  Paul was a key architect of the Equal Rights Amendment after her successful advocacy of a federal solution to female suffrage.

Alice Vertical Frame
People at a theater looking at a dress rehearsal of ballet performing arts


"The Suffragist" follows Alice Paul, Carrie Chapman Catt, Lucy Burns, Inez Milholland, Ida B. Wells, and others as they struggle to justify the means for their ultimate goal: winning the franchise for women. This battle of ideas and leadership is painted in intimate human moments, and with musical spectacle, bringing to life the parades, rallies and protests these revolutionary activists used to advance their cause.


The July 2021 production is made possible through partnerships with the Cedar Falls Tourism and Visitors Bureau, University of Northern Iowa, "Hard Won Not Done", and The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.



American women were the first people to hold organized protests outside the White House. They were jailed and repeatedly tortured by the government, simply for demanding the right to vote.

Slow motion of actors and actresses bowing to audience in a theater


Women make up 51% of the US population, but receive 1/3 fewer principal roles in professional theatre. The time is ripe to share this passionate and inspirational female-driven musical with a large audience.

Carrie Chapman Catt square


The debut of "The Suffragist" at Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center coincides with the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.