Well folks, I finally went to see the new musical “The Right is Ours!” which debuted on September 8th, 2023 at Sierra Madre Playhouse in the San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles. It ran for one month, closing on October 8th, 2023. The musical is based on the true friendship between Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who met and started a collaboration that lasted more than fifty years. Together, they led and helped shape the women’s suffrage movement.
“The Right is Ours” features music and lyrics by Adryan Russ, with book and direction by Lloyd J. Schwartz, who has a passion for historical storytelling. The splendid songs by Russ do much to evoke the era of the United States in the 1800’s. The cast features Emily Abeles as Elizabeth, Anna Mintzer as Susan, Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield as Emmeline, Paige Berkovitz as Ida, and alternates Carlin Castellano as Christabel and Susan understudy Katherine Chatman as Ida, Christabel and Emmeline understudy. The two lead characters, Susan and Elizabeth are authentic and legendary. The other females are fictional, composite characters of the period, and the actresses serve as background and chorus.
The stage manager Dale Alan Cooke does a fine job. While there are no actual sets , visual, historical images were projected on a screen by projection designer Rick Simone. The minimalist approach continues with the music. There are no live musicians, it’s a taped track and the ladies do a superb job following along. Gregory Nabours serves as the musical director, and the much in demand Kat Sherrell is the orchestrator. It should be noted that my namesake Kat is currently on tour with the iconic show “Hamilton.” Kay Cole’s clever choreography keeps the show well-paced.
Some stand-out moments include the opening song “Seneca Falls” sung by all the suffragettes, which sets the backdrop for the story. Cady Stanton was an American writer, abolitionist, human rights activist and driven organizer of the first Women’s Rights Convention, in 1848. She helped write The Declaration of Sentiments. Susan B. didn’t attend that convention, and actually met Cady Stanton in 1851, introduced by Amelia Bloomer on a street in Seneca Falls, New York. There is a fun song in the show called “Bloomers” about the popular article of clothing, that was fashionable at the time.
The song “The Revolution” focuses the women’s rights newspaper called The Revolution, that was published by Anthony and Cady Stanton. The co-editor was originally Parker Pillsbury, an abolitionist and supporter of the women’s rights movement. When they lose their financial backing, Susan B. goes on the road doing speaking tours. Cady Stanton wrote most of her speeches and was known as the “brains behind Susan’s brawn.”
One of the most powerful songs is “Ain’t I A Woman?” sung by Emmeline, portrayed by the dynamic Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield. The song’s origins are from a speech made by the black evangelist and reformer Sojourner Truth. Emmeline and chorus of women’s voices sing about the contributions and journey of the African-American woman during the Suffragist movement.
The finale is moving, uplifting with all five women singing the stirring anthem “Bless The Women” with pictures of famous feminists flashing on the screen, including Cady Stanton, Anthony, Sojourner Truth, second wave feminists Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisolm, RBG, Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand, Cher, Oprah, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Michelle Obama, Kamala Harris, and too many famous women to count. The audience rose to its feet to give the show a standing ovation.
In the press notes it describes “The Right is Ours” as “the exciting story of brave and daring women who changed the world to give women a greater voice in their lives. One century later, there are still places within the United States threatened with voter suppression, so this new musical is especially relevant. The right is ours! It still is.”
I would love to see “The Right is Ours!” revival at a theatre in Hollywood, Santa Monica or the NoHo Arts District during Women’s History month- March 2024, or National Women’s Equality Day August 26th, 2024. The cast is sparkling, and the songs very memorable. If the creative team keeps up the momentum, “The Right is Ours!” can be historical “edutainment” for all.
Live your dreams…..