Delve into the captivating world of 19: The Musical, a dynamic journey through the little-known, yet powerful narrative, of the suffragists who championed women’s right to vote. Crafted by the visionary duo of AMSG’s own Doug Bradshaw and Jennifer, this groundbreaking production shines a spotlight on the extraordinary lives of Alice Paul, Ida B. Wells, Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Inez Milholland, and other fearless advocates of change. Doug and Jennifer work for AMSG on our DHS contract.

As the creators, writers, and directors, Doug and Jennifer bring their passion for storytelling to the forefront, weaving together music, drama, and history to create an unforgettable theatrical experience. From its humble beginnings in public workshops to its triumphant premiere at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 19: The Musical is set to release a full audiobook, transporting listeners into the heart of the suffrage movement, igniting a newfound appreciation for the struggles and triumphs of these remarkable women.

In this exclusive interview, AMSG’s Douglas Bradshaw sheds light on the creative process and the challenges of bringing history to life on stage. From the decision to tackle the untold story of women’s suffrage to the meticulous research and collaboration with musicians, every step of the journey reflects Doug and Jennifer’s commitment to authenticity and excellence.

Through 19: The Musical, Doug and Jennifer spark dialogue and inspire action, shining a light on the transformative power of nonviolent activism and the enduring legacy of those who fought for equality.

 AMSG: What is 19: The Musical?

Doug Bradshaw: 19: The Musical is the dynamic and little-known story of Alice Paul, Ida B. Wells, Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Inez Milholland, and the other suffragists who fought to get women the right to vote – the 19th Amendment.

We wrote, directed, and produced it as a musical for the stage. We performed 30+ public workshops of parts of the show from 2017-2019, culminating in the premiere at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in November 2019, right before COVID shut everything down. Recently we got the cast back together and brought them into the studio to record a full audiobook version of the show. It will be available soon on Audible, Spotify, chirp, and more.

AMSG: Tell me a bit about you, your background, and what you do at AMSG.

DB: I write articles, both public and non-public facing, as well as write, direct, and produce videos and podcasts in addition to a number of other projects for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology’s (S&T) Communication and Outreach Division (COD).

AMSG: How did writing a musical come about?

DB: Years ago, we started a production company and we created a number of theater and multimedia projects. In 2016, we were finishing-up an immersive theatrical production and thinking about what we could do next. At the time, Hamilton was very popular, and we were enamored with everything about the show.

Hamilton is a brilliant framing of history and at the time, the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment (women’s right to vote) was on the horizon. We decided to create a musical to honor the passage of the 19th Amendment, and we called it 19: The Musical.

AMSG: What experience do you have with writing musicals?

DB: Absolutely none! We are both writers and directors, but not musicians. We interviewed a number of musicians, trying to find the right fit for what we envisioned. We wanted something that sounded somewhat modern, but that also had a jazz feel. We eventually settled upon a jazz musician and composer as our partner for the project.

AMSG: What made you decide to write a musical about this subject?

DB: Women’s history is so frequently overlooked. Their stories are unknown. 2020 was the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and we wanted to celebrate the tenacious women, who fought to give women the vote.

AMSG: What were some of the challenges during the writing process?

DB: Since we’re not musicians, we took a bit longer figuring out how to tell our story lyrically. And though we’re writers, we’re not historians. We had to do a ton of research on our own, and we also spoke with a number of academics and authors to make sure we had our facts straight.

Once we had the facts, we could create a framework and decide where/when/how to incorporate fictionalized situations and composite characters into the story. The history of women’s fight for the vote is massive and sprawling. Sometimes, we had to combine characters and events to make the show manageable.

As it is, the audiobook runs about 2 ½ hours. Bottom line is that 19 is a musical based pretty closely upon the widely unknown history of these incredibly brave Americans, but it is not a documentary.

AMSG: What do you hope to accomplish with your musical?

DB: We want to shine a light on how a nonviolent movement for equality can affect change. How people who are passionate can change the course of history. We want these women to be known for how they changed this country for the better.

AMSG: Do you have plans to write more?

DB: We are always brainstorming new ideas and have several other projects in the works.

AMSG: Is there anything else you would like to share?

DB: Studying U.S. History in school, suffrage got about a paragraph of coverage. It was an afterthought, but it is more than just “women’s history,” it is America’s history. And parts of it are very ugly. Women were beaten and tortured here in D.C., just for wanting the basic right to vote. But as Americans, it is our duty to know our history and use that understanding of what we, as a nation, have endured, so that we can continue to strive for an even brighter future.

Written by: Juania Owens