“The Suffragist” is thrilled to announce two Waterloo, Iowa natives have joined the cast of the upcoming musical, running July 16 to 18, 2021 at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on the University of Northern Iowa campus.

Up-and-coming New York singer, Waterloo native and UNI alumna MaKayla McDonald and Joel Waggoner, a Waterloo native, UNI alumnus and Broadway veteran, will join stars Nancy Opel and Cathryn Wake, alongside other Iowa-based cast and production staff members.

McDonald will play Ida B. Wells, an American investigative journalist, educator and early leader in the civil rights movement. Wells was active in women’s rights and the women’s suffrage movement, and outspoken regarding her beliefs as a Black female activist. For this, she faced regular disapproval from several leaders of the civil rights and suffrage movements. McDonald thrilled audiences while she was a vocal performance major at the University of Northern Iowa and recently played the title role in the New York premiere of Thea Musgrave’s The Story of Harriet Tubman. 

MaKayla McDonald (Ida B. Wells)

“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)

In the musical, Waggoner will double 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.  

For a full list of “The Suffragist” cast and production staff, visit

Tickets will go on sale starting June 1, 2021. Call UNItix at (319) 273-4849 or visit for more information.

“The Suffragist” is funded in part by a host of organizations, including Iowa Arts Council, Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, CRST International, Hard Won-Not Done and the University of Northern Iowa.