Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s magnificent musical Caroline, Or Change makes magic from the mundane, starring the brilliant Sharon D Clarke in the title role.
Following sold-out engagements at Chichester Festival Theatre and Hampstead Theatre, this acclaimed revival of Caroline, Or Change transfers to the West End’s Playhouse Theatre, telling a story which is by turns playful, profound, funny and deeply moving.
In 1963 Louisiana, the spirit of revolution – and change – is in the air. Yet it’s worlds away from the life of poorly paid maid Caroline (Sharon D Clarke), who barely scrapes a living by toiling away the days in the sweltering basement of the Gellman household.
When a friendship blossoms between Caroline and eight-year-old Noah Gellman, who sneaks downstairs to see her whenever he can, the basement becomes a fantastical place of singing radios, washing machines and dryers. But as Noah continually leaves money in his pockets, Caroline is faced with a dilemma which tests how far the winds of change can ever really reach.
Set at a time of momentous social upheaval, Caroline, Or Change blends a heart-warming mix of sounds with a score incorporating soul, blues, classical and traditional Jewish folk music, and won the 2007 Olivier Award for Best New Musical. Partly inspired by the boyhood of writer Kushner (Angels In America), the show puts forward a story which needs to be told.
Olivier Award-winner Sharon D. Clarke is to reprise her critically-hailed performance in the role of Caroline Thibodeaux. Clarke has enjoyed a long established stage career with credits including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Ghost The Musical (Piccadilly Theatre), Hairspray (Shaftesbury Theatre) and We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre). On TV, Clarke is well-known for playing Lola Griffin in the BBC’s Holby City.
Directed by Michael Longhurst (Amadeus, National Theatre; Constellations, Royal Court/West End), this five-star production received widespread critical and audience praise when it opened in both Chichester and London. Indeed, when Official London Theatre saw the show at Hampstead Theatre we called it “one of the must-see musicals of the season” – and thankfully, West End audiences are getting an extra opportunity to do just that.
Please note that the role of Caroline will be played by Naana Agyei-Ampadu on Monday performances going forwards (7, 14, 21, 28 January; 4, 11, 18, 25 February; 4, 11, 18, 25 March; 1 April).