Caroline, or Change
|Caroline, or Change|
|Productions||2003 Off-Broadway |
2018 West End
|Awards||Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical|
The musical was first workshopped in May 1992 at New York's Off-Broadway Public Theater. Director George C. Wolfe continued to workshop the musical at the Public Theater, where it opened on November 30, 2003 and closed on February 1, 2004.
It transferred to Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on May 2, 2004 and closed on August 29, 2004 after 136 performances and 22 previews. The musical starred Tonya Pinkins in the title role, Anika Noni Rose as Emmie Thibodeaux, Harrison Chad as Noah Gellman, Veanne Cox as Rose Stopnick Gellman and Chandra Wilson as Dotty Moffett (all both off-and on-Broadway). The choreographer was Hope Clarke; scenic design by Riccardo Hernandez; costume design by Paul Tazewell; and lighting design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer. Despite its relatively short run, it was critically acclaimed and nominated for six Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Opening in October 2006, a London production at the National Theatre on the Lyttelton stage, also directed by Wolfe, ran in repertory with Marianne Elliot's production of Thérèse Raquin to January 2007. The production did not transfer to the West End but did win the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. The opening night cast in London starred Tonya Pinkins as Caroline. Other cast members included Pippa Bennett-Warner as Emmie Thibodeaux, Anna Francolini as Rose Stopnick Gellman, Hilton McRae as Mr. Stopnick, Perry Millward, Jonny Weldon and Greg Bernstein alternating as Noah and Clive Rowe as the dryer/bus Joy Malcolm, Ramona Keller and Nataylia Roni, as the Radio.
A revival was produced at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester as part of Daniel Evans' inaugural season as artistic director of Chichester Festival Theatre, running from 6 May to 3 June 2017. The production was directed by Michael Longhurst, starred Sharon D. Clarke as Caroline and received critical acclaim earning five star reviews. The production transferred with Clarke to the Hampstead Theatre, London from 12 March to 21 April 2018. The production transferred to the West End at the Playhouse Theatre, where it began playing on 20 November 2018, and ran until 2 March 2019, once again starring Clarke.
A revival, based on the Chichester production, was initially announced to open on Broadway on March 13, 2020 in previews, April 7, 2020 (officially) at Studio 54. Direction is by Michael Longhurst with choreography by Ann Yee and starring Sharon D. Clarke and Samantha Williams (Emmie). As of March 12, 2020, the show suspended production due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The show's production will be suspended until September 6, 2020 at the earliest. 
Pinkins and Anika Noni Rose (Emmie Thibodeaux) reprised their roles in late 2004 at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, California and in January to February 2005 at the Curran Theatre, San Francisco, California. Its premiere in The Washington DC area at The Studio Theatre in 2006, starring Julia Nixon and Max Talisman, received rave reviews, and won The Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress, Resident Musical (Nixon), and Outstanding Resident Musical. The Chicago premiere at the Court Theatre in fall 2008 earned four Jeff awards for director Charles Newell, Musical Director Doug Peck, star E. Faye Butler, and best production of a musical at a large scale theater.
Other regional productions have included Center Stage, Baltimore, Maryland, in December 2008 to January 2009 with E. Faye Butler; the Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April to June 2009, the Gallery Players, Brooklyn, N.Y., January to February 2010, The Human Race Theatre Company, Dayton, Ohio November 4–20, 2011, and Syracuse Stage (Syracuse, New York) February 1-February 26, 2012. In 2017, the Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland staged it as part of a season with a focus on Tony Kushner plays. Its Colorado regional premiere took place April 5 to May 5, 2019, at the Aurora Fox Arts Center, directed by Kenny Moten and starring Mary Louise Lee as Caroline.
A 2012 production by Acting Up Stage Company in Toronto, Ontario garnered Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Outstanding Production of a Musical, Sterling Jarvis (principal actor), Arlene Duncan (principal actress) and Outstanding Musical Direction (Reza Jacobs). A new production by Acting Up Stage Company, now called The Musical Stage Company, in Toronto, Ontario will play January 31 to February 16, 2020 starring Jully Black as Caroline and Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman as The Moon at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres.
- Act One
On a hot day in 1963 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Caroline, a black maid who works for the Gellman family for $30 a week, launders clothes in the basement ("16 Feet Beneath The Sea"). Caroline keeps herself sane in the basement by imagining the items in the basement as people ("The Radio/Laundry Quintet"). The Gellmans' 8-year-old son Noah, whose mother has recently died of cancer, is attracted to Caroline, a no-nonsense single parent (“Noah Down The Stairs”). Caroline allows Noah to light her one cigarette each day, a secret they can share ("The Cigarette"). Caroline puts the laundry in the dryer and sings about her four kids and cleaning houses for 22 years ("The Dryer/I Got Four Kids").
Noah's new stepmother Rose cannot give Caroline a raise, but tells her to take some extra food home to her kids ("Caroline, There's Extra Food"); Caroline declines. Noah's father Stuart, despondent since his wife's death, tells Noah he has lost his faith ("There is No God, Noah"). Noah confesses that he hates Rose ("Rose Stopnick Can Cook"). Rose confesses to her father, Mr. Stopnick, that she is unhappy as well ("Long Distance").
After work, Caroline argues with her friend Dotty about each other's lifestyles ("Dotty and Caroline"). The moon rises as they wait for a bus ("Moon Change"). They discuss the recent mysterious destruction of a statue of a Confederate soldier at the courthouse ("Moon Trio"). The bus arrives with devastating news: President Kennedy has been assassinated ("The Bus/That Can’t Be").
Rose tells Noah to stop leaving money in his pants pockets, and that any money Caroline finds in his laundry will be hers to keep ("Noah and Rose"). The Gellman family reminisces about the good President Kennedy did for the Jews—and Dotty reminisces about the good he intended to do for African Americans (“Inside/Outside/JFK"). On the front porch of her house, Caroline tells her teenage daughter Emmie that the president is dead. Emmie says she does not care, because JFK never fulfilled his promises to the black community ("No One Waiting/Night Mama"). Noah, awake in his bedroom, asks Caroline what laws she would pass if she were president ("Gonna Pass Me a Law/Noah Goes To Sleep”).
Rose tells Caroline she is allowed to keep any money she finds in Noah's pants, to supplement her salary and teach Noah a lesson ("Noah Has a Problem"). Noah and his father, Stuart, have trouble bonding ("Stuart and Noah"). Noah, aware of her situation, purposefully leaves his candy and comic book money in his pockets, as well as seventy-five cents ("Quarter in the Bleach Cup"). Caroline feels bad about keeping it, but does so, out of necessity. Caroline brings the money to Emmie, Jackie, and Joe who discuss all the things they can do and things they can buy with it ("Caroline Takes My Money Home/Roosevelt Petrucius Coleslaw").
- Act Two
As Christmas approaches Caroline, ironing clothes in the basement, remembers her ex-husband, who was kind and thoughtful until he became abusive ("Santa Comin’ Caroline/ Little Reward/1943"). Rose tells Caroline to keep any money Stuart leaves in his clothes as well but Caroline snaps at Rose saying she doesn't need her pity or money and threatens her with the iron ("Mr. Gellman's Shirt"/"Ooh Child"). Rose then asks if she, Dotty, and Emmie will work at her upcoming Chanukah party ("Rose Recovers"). Emmie, Jackie, and Joe encourage her to keep taking the laundry money, because the family needs it ("I Saw Three Ships").
At the Chanukah party, Noah educates Emmie about the holiday ("The Chanukah Party"). Rose shoos Noah out of the kitchen ("Noah, Out! It's Very Rude") and Dotty tells Emmie about the courthouse statue ("Dotty and Emmie"). When Mr. Stopnick belittles Martin Luther King Jr.'s nonviolent civil disobedience, Emmie tells him white people have no right to be critical ("I Don’t Want My Child To Hear That/Mr. Stopnick and Emmie"). Mr. Stopnick is impressed with Emmie's bravado, but Caroline tells her she cannot talk that way to white people; Emmie retorts that slavery is over ("Kitchen Fight"). Mr. Stopnick's Chanukah present to Noah is a $20 bill, intended as a life lesson about money and its value ("A Twenty Dollar Bill and Why"). At the bus stop, Emmie dreams of growing up to be independent and fighting for justice ("I Hate the Bus"). Back at the house, Stuart laments that he can give neither Rose nor Noah what they need ("Moon, Emmie, Stuart Trio").
Noah inadvertently leaves the $20 bill in his pants; after school he rushes to the basement, but Caroline has found it and says she is keeping it, per their agreement ("The Twenty Dollar Bill"). Noah and Caroline exchange racial insults, then Caroline returns the money and leaves ("Caroline and Noah Fight"). After five days, Caroline has not returned to work ("Aftermath"). That Sunday on her way to church, Caroline realizes that the laundry money had only fostered greed and hatefulness; she asks God to free her from earthly desires ("Sunday Morning/Lot's Wife"). The radio sings of a fierce heartbreak (“Salty Teardrops”). At church, Caroline gives Emmie a fierce hug and accepts her daughter's choices ("How Long Has This Been Going On?").
Noah finally lets Rose tuck him into bed and kiss him goodnight. Caroline returns to work and assures Noah that although things will never be the same between them, Noah will learn to live with his sorrow and move on ("Why Does Our House Have a Basement?"/ "Underwater"). Emmie reveals that she helped take down the Confederate soldier statue, and proudly sings that she is the daughter of a maid, but she will continue to work for a greater cause, and her children will have a brighter future. Jackie and Joe come out to shush her and she tells them that it is up to the children of Caroline Thibedeaux to change the future (“Epilogue").
Washer / Dryer
The Bleach Cup
The Chanukah Party
The Twenty Dollar Bill
How Long Has This Been Going On?
- Caroline Thibodeaux: 39-year-old African-American maid for the Gellmans, a middle-class Jewish family
- Noah Gellman: The Gellmans' 8-year-old curious, sympathetic, and neurotic son
- Emmie Thibodeaux: Caroline's 16-year-old free-spirited daughter, supporter of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement
- Rose Stopnick Gellman: Noah's concerned new stepmother from New York City, marries Stuart after his first wife's death
- Stuart Gellman: Professional clarinet player and Noah's father, mourning the loss of his wife
- Dotty Moffett: Friend of Caroline and fellow maid, takes night classes at the University
- The Radio: Domestic appliance portrayed by a Supremes-like trio, serves as a Greek Chorus for the show
- The Washing Machine: Domestic appliance portrayed by an actor, cleans clothes for the Gellmans and pushes Caroline to move forward in life
- The Dryer: Domestic appliance portrayed by an actor, torments Caroline throughout the show
- The Moon: Portrayed by an actor, is a calming and healing presence throughout the show
- The Bus: Portrayed by an actor, is the primary source of transportation for the African-American characters in the show
- Grandpa Gellman: Noah's grandfather, Stuart's father
- Grandma Gellman: Noah's grandmother, Stuart's mother
- Jackie Thibodeaux: Caroline's 10-year-old son
- Joe Thibodeaux: Caroline's 8-year-old son
- Mr. Stopnick: Rose's father, a Jewish man with a socialist ideology from New York City
|Chichester Festival Theatre
|Caroline Thibodeaux||Rosalyn Coleman Williams||Tonya Pinkins||Sharon D. Clarke|
|Noah Gellman||Adam Lamberg||Jonathan Press||Harrison Chad||Greg Bernstein
|Emmie Thibodeaux||Afi McClendon||Pascale Armand||Anika Noni Rose||Pippa Bennett-Warner||Abiona Omonua||Samantha Williams|
|Rose Stopnick Gellman||Carrie Preston||Veanne Cox||Anna Francolini||Lauren Ward||Caissie Levy|
|Stuart Gellman||Dan Futterman||Ben Shenkman||Denis O’Hare||Adam Grupper||David Costabile||Richard Henders||Alex Gaumond||Alastair Brookshaw||John Cariani|
|Dotty Moffett||Michael Hyatt||Kimberly JaJuan||Chandra Wilson||Nora Cole||Nicola Hughes||Naana Agyei-Ampadu||Tamika Lawrence|
|The Radio||Ann Duquesnay||Tracy Nicole Chapman
|Tracy Nicole Chapman
|Tracy Nicole Chapman
|Keisha Amponsa Banson
|Keisha Amponsa Banson
|Nasia Thomas |
|The Washing Machine||Noel True||Michael Hyatt||Capathia Jenkins||Malinda Paris||Me’sha Bryan||Arica Jackson|
|The Dryer / The Bus||Chuck Cooper||Tommy Hollis||Chuck Cooper||Clive Rowe||Ako Mitchell||Kevin S. McAllister|
|The Moon||Ann Duquesnay||Priscilla Baskerville||Barbara Conrad||Adriane Lenox||Aisha de Haas||Angela M Caesar||N’Kenge|
|Mr. Stopnick||David Margulies||Larry Keith||Hilton McRae||Teddy Kempner||Chip Zien|
|Jackie Thibodeaux||Jason Dendy||Sean Taylor||Chevon Rutty||Kevin Ricardo Tate||Leon Thomas III||Ronald Chabvuka
|Chinua Bakara Payne|
|Joe Thibodeaux||Sean Taylor||Jeremy Meleek Leggett||Phil Harris||Marcus Carl Franklin||Kazim Benson
|Grandpa Gellman||Ben Hammer||Bill Buell||Reathel Bean||Ian Lavender||Vincent Pirillo||Stuart Zagnit|
|Grandma Gellman||Sloane Shelton||Lola Pashalinski||Alice Playten||Valda Aviks||Beverley Klein||Sue Kelvin||Joy Hermalyn|
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|2004||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Book of a Musical||Tony Kushner||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical||Tonya Pinkins||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Anika Noni Rose||Won|
|Best Direction of a Musical||George C. Wolfe||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Musical||Nominated|
|Outstanding Book of a Musical||Tony Kushner||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Tonya Pinkins||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Anika Noni Rose||Nominated|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||George C. Wolfe||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music||Jeanine Tesori||Won|
Original London production
|2007||Laurence Olivier Awards||Best New Musical||Won|
|Best Actress in a Musical||Tonya Pinkins||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Performance in a Musical||Anna Francolini||Nominated|
2018 London revival
|2018||Evening Standard Theatre Award||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Musical Performance||Sharon D. Clarke||Nominated|
|2019||Laurence Olivier Award||Best Musical Revival||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Musical||Sharon D. Clarke||Won|
|Best Costume Design||Fly Davis||Nominated|
- Jones, Kenneth."Before Broadway, Caroline, or Change Ends Public Theater Run Feb. 1; Final Weekend Sold Out" Archived October 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, February 1, 2004
- Brantley, Ben."Theater Review; Outsiders Bond in a South of Roiling Change" The New York Times, December 1, 2003
- Sommer, Elyse."A CurtainUp Review: 'Caroline, or Change' " curtainup.com, May 3, 2004
- Billington, Michael."Review:'Caroline, or Change' " The Guardian, October 20, 2006
- "Exceptional revival of a powerful and innovative drama - Caroline, Or Change review" telegraph.co.uk 12 May 2017
- Vine, Hannah. First Look at Sharon D. Clarke in 'Caroline, or Change' at London’s Hampstead Theatre" Playbill, March 19, 2018
- "Caroline, Or Change extends in the West End, free tickets available for people called Caroline | WhatsOnStage". www.whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
- Clement, Olivia. "Cast Complete for Broadway Revival of 'Caroline, or Change'" Playbill, January 23, 2020
- Clement, Olivia (May 12, 2020). "Check the Statuses of Broadway Shows During the Coronavirus Shutdown". Retrieved May 29, 2020.
- Desk, BWW News. "Breaking: Roundabout Pushes CAROLINE, OR CHANGE and BIRTHDAY CANDLES to Fall 2020". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
- Summary of article from Los Angeles Sentinel, December 15, 2004 highbeam.com
- Hernandez, Ernio; Jones, Kenneth. "Kushner and Tesori's 'Caroline, or Change' with Pinkins Plays in San Francisco" playbill, January 14, 2005
- "Jeff Awards". Jeff Awards. Archived from the original on 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
- CenterStage listing Archived December 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine centerstage.org
- Guthrie listing guthrietheater.org Archived 2009-05-15 at the Wayback Machine
- Hetrick, Adam. "Guthrie Announces 2008-09 Season of "Firsts," Including Kushner Premiere and Little House Musical" playbill, March 26, 2008
- "Greta Oglesby Leads Kushner & TesoriÂ's 'Caroline, or Change' at Syracuse Stage" broadwayworld.com, January 31, 2012
- "Aurora Fox ushers in daring new era with ‘Caroline, Or Change’" denvercenter.com
- Ouzounian, Richard. " 'Crash'; 'Caroline, or Change' and 'Topdog/Underdog' win most Dora Awards" The Star, June 25, 2012
- "New Production of 'Caroline or Change'" The Star, May 22, 2019
- "Read the Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2018 shortlist in full". www.standard.co.uk. 2018-11-16. Retrieved 2020-12-03.
- Thompson, Jessie (2018-11-19). "Find out the winners of this year's Evening Standard Theatre Awards". www.standard.co.uk. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
- "Olivier Awards 2019: Full Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. 2019-04-07. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
- Caroline, or Change at the Internet Broadway Database
- Caroline, or Change at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Caroline, or Change at the Music Theatre International website
- Review of the Broadway production
- Review of the London production
- Tonya Pinkins - Downstage Center interview at American Theatre Wing.org