Caroline, Or Change, the new musical by playwright-librettist Tony Kushner and composer Jeanine Tesori, started previews at Broadway’s O'Neill Theatre on April 13 and will open on May 2. Directed by George C. Wolfe, with lighting by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, sound by Jon Weston, sets by Riccardo Hernandez, and costumes by Paul Tazewell, Caroline, or Change transferred from the Public Theatre where it opened last November. Attendees at this year’s BLMC and BSMC will see the show on Thursday, June 17, followed by a post-show discussion in the theatre and a critique about the lighting during the classes on Friday morning, June 18.
Kushner’s first musical, Caroline, Or Change is about Caroline, the black maid of the Gellmans, a Southern family, made up of a father, his new wife, and the man's young son, Noah. The son's birth mother has recently died, and the stepmother is trying to establish a relationship with the child, who already has a close connection with Caroline. The title has a double meaning, referring to the myriad social changes swirling around the family and a family argument surrounding the spare change perpetually found in the boy's pants pockets. The story takes place in 1963 at the height of the Civil Rights movement and right before the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and deals with important social issues such as class struggle and unspoken racism.
Caroline (Tonya Pinkins) and Noah
in a scene from Caroline, Or Change
The book and lyrics by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America) provide exceptionally good storytelling and the pop-opera score by Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie) is a fresh mix of Broadway, gospel, and Motown, complete with a girl group not too unlike the Supremes.
Tonya Pinkins received universally outstanding reviews for her performance in the lead role of Caroline Thibodeaux. In fact, Jen Hendricks of Show Business Weekly referred to her as "nothing short of electric and there is a particular number—and you will know the one—that alone covers the cost of admission."