On a superficial level, the new musical “Suffs” looks a lot like “Hamilton” — so much so that “some people are calling it ‘Hermilton,'” said one of the show’s stars, Jenn Colella, on the new episode of Variety‘s theater podcast, Stagecraft, alongside co-star (and “Hamilton” alum) Phillipa Soo.
Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:
It’s easy to see the overlap. The new show about the women behind the Suffragist movement is also an American history musical, premiering at the Public Theater in the same auditorium where “Hamilton” debuted. Its writer-composer-lyricist, Shaina Taub, plays the show’s protagonist, as Lin-Manuel Miranda did in “Hamilton.” And, of course, there’s Soo, who originated the role of Eliza in “Hamilton” and now plays labor lawyer and activist Inez Milholland in “Suffs.”
On Stagecraft, Soo agreed that there may be some similarities between the two shows, but also argued that those overlaps are only natural given the creators involved. “Of course you’re going to see similarities between these two writers who are taking everything that they know and love about the art form of musical theater and bringing it to their work,” she said. “Yes, there’s American history there, and yes, I’m there. But I think it just goes to show you that at the end of the day we’re all really interested in hearing and seeing stories where we see ourselves in them.”
Also on the new episode of Stagecraft, Soo and Colella talked acting methodologies, performance mishaps and how it feels to have celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio come see your new musical in its fourth preview. As two actors who appeared in filmed musicals on streaming services during the pandemic (Soo in “Hamilton” on Disney Plus and Colella in “Come From Away” on Apple TV Plus), the duo also explained why they appreciate the rising trend of filming stage shows for digital release.
Soo joked that digital offerings like “Hamilton” or “Come From Away” are “the best-rehearsed film you’ve ever seen.” For her, “all the technical elements and the cameras coming in a little bit closer, that was just an opportunity to find something new after having done the show many, many times. To be able to go back and dig deeper, to go a little bit tighter or be a little but more subdued in certain moments — it’s refreshing as an artist to get to do something like that.”
“Making friends with the camera, it was like a little alien, another scene partner in my face,” Colella said. “[But I could] trust that if I raised an eyebrow, I didn’t have to worry about the balcony seeing that.”
To hear the full conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the Broadway Podcast Network. New episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week.