Tony Award winner Shaina Taub, 'the future of musical theatre,' on the people who inspire her

Taub made her Broadway debut writing and starring in the musical Suffs, and she earned 2024 Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

Don't just take our word for it that Shaina Taub is "the future of musical theatre" — that's a direct quote from Lin-Manuel Miranda. As the man who wrote the 11-time Tony Award-winning Hamilton, he would know.

Some have called Taub a successor of sorts to Miranda. Her Broadway musical Suffs, like Hamilton, dramatizes a slice of American history (the women's suffrage movement) and began at The Public Theater off Broadway before heading uptown.

But Taub has a style and a voice all her own — not to mention, she made history with Suffs as the second woman to ever be the sole creator and star of her own Broadway show. (She plays suffragist Alice Paul.) Taub's singular talent became even more apparent on June 16, when Suffs won the Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.

In the Tony Awards press room after accepting her first award, Taub credited her mom with inspiring her to pursue her passion.

"My mom is a former elementary school teacher, and she would bind up empty storybooks and tell me and my sister, 'Fill them with your stories,'" Taub recalled. "We were always doing some kind of creative project at home."

"I loved theatre from a young age, and she never made me feel like that was crazy or stupid or unrealistic," Taub continued. "She never judged me or was critical of me, and always, and only as an adult had I realized how rare that is in a mom. I really feel that what kept me going is, I grew up with someone who believed in me before I believed in myself."

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Taub's career took off in the 2010s, when she composed songs for musical adaptations of Shakespeare works for the Public, leading to that theatre producing Suffs. One of the biggest changes she made to the show between Off-Broadway and Broadway was adding in more "book" (spoken dialogue); off Broadway, Suffs was almost entirely sung through.

She said she looked to the books of musicals like Ragtime and Urinetown (both of which also won Best Book and Best Score) to guide her rewrites, suggesting that those shows were indirectly instrumental to her own Tony wins. Throughout her career, Taub said, a long tradition of musical theatre writers mentored her.

"So many of the composers and lyricists that I've idolized — Jeanine Tesori, Lynn Ahrens, Andrew Lippa, and Lin as well — have been so generous with their feedback through readings and listening to demos of songs," Taub said. "It's really a craft that cares about the next generation."

Taub's recurring theme of intergenerational support drives Suffs itself. The show is primarily about the conflicts between different factions of suffragists, but it also leaves a message for future generations of activists. The closing number, which the Suffs cast performed on the Tonys broadcast, urges them to "Keep Marching" since the fight for women's rights won't end with the suffragists.

So what's Taub's own message for the generation after her? To writers, it's to apply for every grant, award, and fellowship out there. To everyone else: "When ordinary American citizens come together to coalition-build and organize for justice and equality and our rights, we get things done. The suffs achieved major constitutional change 100 years ago, and we can do it now."

Get Suffs tickets now.

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Top image credit: Shaina Taub. (Photo courtesy of The Tony Awards and Getty Images)
In-article image credit: Taub in Suffs. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Originally published on

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