“Suffs” Creator Shaina Taub Says the Tony-Nominated Musical Is About ‘Women Getting S--- Done’ (Exclusive)

The Broadway musical is nominated for six Tony Awards, including best musical and best original score

<p>Cindy Ord/Getty</p>

Cindy Ord/Getty

Shaina Taub is putting in the work and having fun while doing it.

The actress-musician, 35, is behind the hit musical Suffs, which is up for six Tony Awards after opening on Broadway in April.

The women’s suffrage movement musical — produced by Hillary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai — was 10 years in the making, largely because Taub had to do her research.

“The idea was brought to me by Rachel Sussman — one of our lead producers — [in 2014] and when she asked me what I knew about American women’s suffrage, I realized I knew nothing,” Taub tells PEOPLE.

After some reading and research (including a month-long research fellowship at the Schlesinger Library in Cambridge to study the topic), Taub learned just how much she identified with the suffragists.

“It was just a group of driven, hardworking, type-A, organized, stubborn young women who were all really close friends and loved the challenge and found their sense of joy in working together towards a hard goal,” the actress says.

She adds, “I recognized myself and my friends in them.”

<p>Cindy Ord/Getty</p>

Cindy Ord/Getty

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Taub, who plays Alice Paul in the musical, caught the “theater bug” early on in her life.

“I grew up in Waitsfield, Vermont, which is a town of 2,000 people in the Green Mountains, down a dirt road. There’s a great community theater scene — my mom would drive my sister and me to rehearsal, and I just always loved it,” she says. “The area has such a rich culture of appreciating the arts.”

Suffs, which Taub summarizes as “a group of women getting s--- done and having a good time while doing it,” features songs written both on the piano and, in Taub fashion, the accordion.

“Ten years ago I was in a show called Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, and for the role I had to play the accordion,” she says.

"I had to take a one-month crash course and I just fell in love with it. I found it so freeing. I think there's a twisted dark humor the accordion brought out in me in my songwriting, while the piano brings out my emotional side.”

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Jimmy Fontaine
Jimmy Fontaine

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When asked her advice for other musicians and artists hoping to make it to Broadway, Taub says simply: “Find your community of friends.”

She elaborates, “I just feel like that is part of what's helped me get through, I mean, my whole career, but especially all of writing Suffs, is just having those fellow artist friends that support one another. The artist Brian Eno has a term that I love and that I say all the time, which is scenius — the genius of the scene. It’s about a whole community and ecology of talent that supports each other. That’s why Suffs is an ensemble show.”

With the Tony Awards right around the corner — and Suffs nominated for six, including best musical and best original score — Taub can’t help but be grateful for making it this far.

“Just making it to Broadway, let alone having a show of my own, is so beyond my wildest dreams,” Taub says. “And then to be recognized by the Tonys... I mean, I grew up as a theater kid who would kind of watch the Tonys with stars in my eyes. It is more than I could have ever imagined.”

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