Caroline, or Change has now closed on Broadway.
Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s musical Caroline, or Change boasts a score that combines a wealth of music genres, from spirituals to blues and from folk to Jewish klezmer music. Set in Louisiana in 1963, Caroline is an African-American maid who lives by the example that the smallest of changes can lead to the largest of transformations.
This new production, which originated at the popular Chichester Festival Theatre in the spring of 2017 before transferring to the Hampstead Theatre in spring 2018 and then to the West End's Playhouse Theatre in fall 2018 wildly and innovatively re-imagines the musical under the daring direction of Michael Longhurst.
The production’s success was largely due to West End veteran Sharon D Clarke’s Olivier Award-winning, tour-de-force performance as Caroline. Luckily, Clarke reprises the role and makes her long-overdue Broadway debut with the New York transfer, courtesy of Roundabout Theatre Company. She triumphed over stiff competition in her Olivier Awards category, including Kelli O’Hara’s Tony Award-winning turn as Anna Leonowens in The King and I, Adrienne Warren’s powerhouse portrayal of Tina Turner, and Rosalie Craig’s turn as Bobbie in the gender-reversed revival of Company.
Caroline, or Change is a through-composed musical which debuted Off-Broadway at the Public Theater in the fall of 2003 and transferred directly to Broadway in the spring of 2004, starring Tonya Pinkins in the titular role. The tuner picked up six Tony Award nominations and its subsequent 2006 London premiere would ultimately go on to scoop the Olivier Award for best new musical.
Brace yourself, Broadway — a change is coming.
(Top photo by Helen Maybanks; gallery photos by Joan Marcus)