CAROLINE, OR CHANGE

Book and lyrics by Tony Kushner
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Directed by Michael Longhurst
Starring Sharon D. Clarke

Running time: 2 hours and 35 minutes including an interval

£10 - £37 (See ticket information)

That old copper statue by the Courthouse downtown, honouring the dead Confederate soldier, ain’t there no more…

Main Stage

17 Mar - 21 Apr 2018
£10 - £37

Box Office: 020 7722 9301

★★★★★ The Times | ★★★★★ Mail on Sunday | ★★★★★ The Telegraph 
★★★★★ Sunday Telegraph | ★★★★★ Evening Standard | ★★★★★ WhatsOnStage
★★★★ Financial Times | ★★★★ The Independent | ★★★★ The Guardian | ★★★★ Time Out


 

Click here to buy tickets for the West End transfer


1963. In quiet Lake Charles, Louisiana, the destruction of a Confederate statue might just signal that change is in the air… But, whatever the progress of the civil rights movement, in the Gellman household things seem just the same – for now at least.

Eight year old Noah, heartbroken by the death of his mother and his father’s remarriage, sneaks down to the basement to spend time with the black maid he idolises, Caroline Thibodeaux: Caroline who runs everything. Whilst the basement may seem a fantastical place - even the appliances have a voice of their own - Caroline’s work there is repetitive and badly paid. But when Mrs Gellman comes up with a way for her to take a little more money home, the consequences for Caroline and Noah’s relationship are not what anybody might have expected…

An Olivier Award winning musical with a hugely original, highly eclectic and uniquely American score, Caroline, or Change creates an uplifting and profound portrait of America at a time of momentous social upheaval.

Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s celebrated musical makes a highly anticipated transfer to Hampstead following its critically acclaimed sell-out run at Chichester Festival Theatre last year.

Kushner returns to Hampstead following The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures or iHo last autumn. Author of the ground-breaking Angels in America (recently revived at the National Theatre), Kushner’s book and lyrics for Caroline, or Change were inspired by his own boyhood. The score is by Jeanine Tesori, whose musical Fun Home won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Original Score.

Michael Longhurst returns to Hampstead to direct following the critically acclaimed sell-out hit, Gloria this summer. His other productions include Amadeus (National Theatre), Bad Jews (Theatre Royal Bath/West End) and Constellations (Royal Court/West End/Broadway).

Sharon D. Clarke reprises her ‘virtuoso performance’ (The Times) as Caroline Thibodeaux. Her Olivier Award winning stage work stretches from August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner (National Theatre) to Ghost The Musical, Hairspray and We Will Rock You in the West End. 

 

A Chichester Festival Theatre production

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Photograph of Sharon D. Clarke by Hugo Glendinning, image creation by Bob King Creative.

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  • The Times

    'With Donald Trump in the White House and protest in the air, this extraordinary 2003 musical by Tony Kushner and the composer Jeanine Tesori feels right on the money. Inspired in part by Kushner’s own boyhood, it’s an almost entirely sung-through story of race, religion and the grotesque economics of exploitation.'

    'Like Kushner’s earlier epic Angels in America, Caroline, or Change blends socio-historical breadth with intoxicating imagination.'

    'Its rapturous lyricism is spiked with rage, joy, hope and pain, potent and sour-sweet as a deep slug of Bourbon. Michael Longhurst’s production — a transfer from Chichester — is fluid, fantastical, yet emotionally immediate. And Sharon D Clarke is so nakedly unstinting in the title role that to watch her seems a privilege.'

    'So the appliances come to life and sing with her — stirring, yearning, angry music, soaked in the sweat and sizzle of Motown, R&B and the blues. The washing machine is a chanteuse in a dress of soap bubbles. The radio is a glittering girl-group trio, and the detested dryer, turning the basement hot as hellfire, is a velvet-voiced tormentor. A queenly silver moon croons nocturnal comfort after the long, weary working day; and all the melodies coalesce with the Mozartian clarinet and klezmer tunes of the Gellmans’ fractured domesticity.'

    'The ensemble is faultless, and as the formidable, anguished Caroline, Clarke is devastating, her voice full of raw soul that shreds the heart, and sets it soaring. Sensational.'

    To read the full review click here to visit The Times online.

    'Raw and defiant, this revival of Tony Kushner’s musical sizzles with tension'
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  • The Telegraph

    'A singing washing machine? A crooning night bus? Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s 2003 musical set in Civil Rights-era Louisiana remains one of the most innovative modern examples of the form: a giddy marriage of fierce social observation and a gospel- and Motown-inflected score delivered by a cast that includes kitchen appliances and a rising moon.'

    'Change takes on many meanings in Caroline, from the winds of revolution blowing through 1963 to the nickels and dimes that form the bedrock of the American dream. In a hellishly overheated basement in Lake Charles, Sharon D. Clarke’s eponymous black maid Caroline is impervious to the former and – it soon turns out – tormented by the latter as she sweats out her days laundering clothes for the Gellman family.'

    'Longhurst underlines the brute economic forces that link the civil rights movement to the more recent Occupy protests – it’s telling that even the young Noah and Emmie acutely understand that American identity is defined by consumer power. But it’s his lavish execution of Tesori’s score that really captures the soul...'

    'Beautifully staged and impeccably performed, this is an exceptional show.'

    'Exceptional revival of a powerful and innovative drama' - Caroline, Or Change review
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  • Evening Standard

    'The more times I see Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s richly textured through-composed musical set in the American Civil Rights era, the more convinced I grow that this is a modern masterpiece of considerable heft. This production, transferring from Chichester, is a rich asset for London theatre.'

    'It’s 1963 in Louisiana and while everything may be changing around her, all is exactly the grinding same for implacable Caroline Thibodeaux (Sharon D. Clarke, magisterial), the black maid for a grieving white Jewish family. When it’s suggested that Caroline keep the loose change she finds in young son Noah’s pockets, it proves a problematic way of dealing with an underpaid grown woman.'

    'The score swoops, swirls and swells through passionate conviction and quiet sorrow, as well as a wide range of genres.'

    'Director Michael Longhurst’s work is sinuous and stylish – just look at the fun he has with the personified, singing Washing Machine (Me’sha Bryan), dressed in an exuberant costume of plastic soap bubbles – and amounts to a production of real grace. Abiona Omonua as Caroline’s rebellious daughter Emmie is a constant joy. A very classy show.'

    To read the full review click here to visit the Evening Standard online.

    'Sharon D Clarke is magesterial in modern masterpiece'
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  • The Sunday Times

    Just as vital as Tony Kushner’s Angels in America is his 2003 musical written with Jeanine Tesori. It’s 1963; America is in ferment, yet nothing stirs in the basement of a Louisiana Jewish household, where Caroline (Sharon D. Clarke), the African-American maid, suffocates amid the laundry. The family’s young son leaves coins in his pockets; to teach him thrift, his stepmother (Lauren Ward) says Caroline should keep any untidied change. A well-meaning gesture, it humiliates everyone, and leads to a horrible roar of hate and shame. Kushner’s signature is his recognition that if people can change, so can the world. Yet Caroline can’t, won’t change. Michael Longhurst’s superb production hits every note, from singing domestic appliances to family rancour, anchored by Clarke, who is scorchingly powerful. Only once do you see her out of her anonymous white uniform. Clarke has a lion in her larynx, but a stone weighing down her soul. 

    Caroline, or Change - Minerva Theatre, Chichester
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  • Time Out

    'Tony Kushner’s semi-autobiographical opera picks over his childhood memories, exploring the injustices that he, a spoilt, sad eight-year-old, was half blind to.'

    'Jeanine Tesori’s score is a rich, tumbling, complex thing: blues, church music, klesmer, opera, and motown sounds all cycle through it, get pushed to the front or provide a low hum in the background.'

    'Sharon D Clarke’s mesmerising performance as Caroline is the still point your eye’s always drawn to. She’s sullen as a kind of resistance to her surroundings, performing an obedience to her employers that strains every part of her body and gives a grim tremble to her voice.'

    'Michael Longhurst has proved he can ‘do’ musicals... it sounds astonishing, and Kushner’s writing achieves something rare: it points to hope, while issuing a reminder that what looks like change can be just going round in so many circles.'

    To read the full review click here to visit Time Out online.

    'Sharon D Clarke stars in this fantastic revival of Tony Kushner‘s strange opera-musical set in Civil Rights-era Louisiana'
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  • Mail on Sunday

    'Down in a sweltering basement in 1963 in Louisiana, Caroline, a black maid, is doing the laundry for the Jewish family she works for. The scorching Sharon D. Clarke wears a pressed white uniform and a thunderously glowering expression, simultaneously conveying her pride and her hurt.'

    'It is too late for Caroline to make radical changes to her life and start again, but not for her firebrand friend Dotty (Nicola Hughes), nor her fearless daughter Emmie (a springy, sparky Abiona Omonua).'

    'Tesori’s music, Fly Davis’s imaginative costumes and designs, and knockout performances give Michael Longhurst’s production a mighty, moving and magical impact.'

    Change is as good as the best: 'Michael Longhurst’s production of Caroline, Or Change is mighty, moving and magical'
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  • WhatsOnStage

    'Unusual doesn't begin to describe this magnificent musical by Tony Kushner, who provided the book and lyrics, and Jeanine Tesori, who wrote the music. It has a kind of bonkers bravura that wraps you in its enthusiastic embrace.'

    'As in Angels in America, he weaves a fantasy from grim reality, bringing a singing washing machine and a singing moon onto the stage, while never losing sight of the anger and bitterness that afflict black Americans struggling to feed their families in a time of radical social change.'

    'The musical explores all this with depth and sophistication. Kushner's lyrics are a mixture of profound poetry, savage political analysis, and sharp humour. Tesori, who later wrote Shrek the Musical and Fun Home, matches him with music of subtle brilliance, incorporating every style from klezmer to spirituals, from jazz to Motown, blending and burnishing them into a surging whole, full of engaging melodies.'

    'This production, a transfer from Chichester, is directed with real flare by Michael Longhurst who is increasingly establishing himself as one of the best directors of musical plays in the business. It's designed by Fly Davis, with economy and imagination.'

    'At the heart of it all stands a sublime performance from Sharon D Clarke that catches every note and beat of what it is like to be Caroline. Her voice is extraordinary, whether it's in her great rumbling shouts of pain at her condition, or the delicate melancholy with which she recalls her feckless husband. But what's also extraordinary is the stillness she brings to her part; you can see her sadness, her anger, her loss simply in the way she smokes her daily cigarette or stares out into the distance.'

    'She's surrounded by a wonderful set of exuberant, telling performances, most notably from the lively household objects (Me'sha Bryan as the washing machine, T'Shan WilliamsSharon Rose and Carol Stennettas the radio, and Ako Mitchell as the dryer), from Abiona Omonua as her spirited daughter, and Naana Agyei-Ampadu as her quick-witted friend Dottie. As Noah, Aaron Gelkoff (on the night I saw it) brings such emotion to the part you forget he is only a child.'

    'Ann Yee provides effortlessly clever choreography and Nigel Lilley conducts an excellent band. All in all, a thought-provoking and satisfying joy.'

    To read the full review click here to visit WhatsOnStage online.

    Review: Caroline, Or Change (Hampstead Theatre)
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Artistic team

BOOK AND LYRICS

TONY KUSHNER

MUSIC

JEANINE TESORI

DIRECTOR

MICHAEL LONGHURST

Designer

FLY DAVIS

CHOREOGRAPHER

ANN YEE

MUSICAL DIRECTOR

NIGEL LILLEY

LIGHTING

JACK KNOWLES

SOUND

PAUL ARDITTI

CASTING

CHARLOTTE SUTTON CDG

CHILDREN's CASTING

DEBBIE O'BRIEN

 

Cast

LISTEN TO CAROLINE, OR CHANGE'S SHARON D. CLARKE ON BBC RADIO 4'S LOOSE ENDS

Posted on 26 March 2018

Sharon D. Clarke talks to BBC Radio 4's Clive Anderson about her starring role in Caroline, or Change

Win tickets to see Caroline, or Change in the West End

Posted on 26 March 2018

This competition is now closed and a winner has been chosen

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE: ★★★★ FROM THE SUNDAY EXPRESS

Posted on 25 March 2018

Michael Arditti awards Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori's Caroline, or Change four stars

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE TRANSFERS TO THE WEST END

Posted on 23 March 2018

Following rave reviews, Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori's 'modern masterpiece' Caroline, or Change transfers to the West End

THE TIMES INTERVIEWS CAROLINE, OR CHANGE WRITER TONY KUSHNER

Posted on 22 March 2018

Dominic Maxwell speaks to Tony Kushner about his musical Caroline, or Change, now playing on the Main Stage

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE: ★★★★★ FROM THE TIMES

Posted on 20 March 2018

Sam Marlowe awards Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori's Caroline, or Change five stars

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE: ★★★★★ FROM THE EVENING STANDARD

Posted on 20 March 2018

Fiona Mountford awards Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori's Caroline, or Change five stars

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE: ★★★★★ FROM WHATSONSTAGE

Posted on 20 March 2018

Sarah Crompton awards Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori's Caroline, or Change five stars

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE: ★★★★ FROM TIME OUT

Posted on 20 March 2018

Alice Saville awards Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori's Caroline, or Change five stars

THE EVENING STANDARD INTERVIEWS CAROLINE, OR CHANGE'S SHARON D CLARKE

Posted on 20 March 2018

Sharon D Clarke, star of Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori's Caroline, or Change, speaks to Evening Standard's Robert Dex

TONY KUSHNER INTRODUCES CAROLINE, OR CHANGE

Posted on 8 March 2018

An excerpt written by Tony Kushner taken from the Caroline, or Change programme

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE: FULL CASTING ANNOUNCED

Posted on 12 February 2018

The full cast for Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori's award-winning musical Caroline, or Change is announced

TWO NEW MAIN STAGE SHOWS ANNOUNCED

Posted on 5 September 2017

Including the UK premiere of Sarah Burgess' Dry Powder, and Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori's celebrated musical Caroline, or Change transfers from a sell-out run at Chichester Festival Theatre

Previews, Mondays and matinees 
Full price: £30/£27/£18
Under 30s/Students: £15/£10* 
Seniors (matinees only): £22/£20
Groups: For every 9 tickets get the 10th free
Access: £16

Tuesday – Saturday evenings 
Full price: £37/£32/£25
Under 30s/Students: £15/£10* 
Groups: For every 9 tickets get the 10th free
Access: £16

*Under 30s and Student concession seats are available in row A (£15) & Band C (£10)

Video and Image Gallery

David Dube (Joe), Josiah Choto (Joe), Abiona Omonua (Emmie Thibodeaux), Kenyah Sandy (Jackie) and Mickell Stewart-Grimes (Jackie) David Dube (Joe), Josiah Choto (Joe), Abiona Omonua (Emmie Thibodeaux), Kenyah Sandy (Jackie) and Mickell Stewart-Grimes (Jackie)
Carole Stennett (The Radio), T'Shan Williams (The Radio) and Sharon Rose (The Radio) Carole Stennett (The Radio), T'Shan Williams (The Radio) and Sharon Rose (The Radio)
Michael Longhurst (Director) Michael Longhurst (Director)
Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline Thibodeaux) Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline Thibodeaux)
Angela Caesar (The Moon) Angela Caesar (The Moon)
T'Shan Williams (The Radio), Ako Michell (The Dryer/The Bus) and Sharon Rose (The Radio) T'Shan Williams (The Radio), Ako Michell (The Dryer/The Bus) and Sharon Rose (The Radio)
Me'sha Bryan (The Washing Machine) Me'sha Bryan (The Washing Machine)
Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline Thibodeaux) and cast Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline Thibodeaux) and cast
Teddy Kempner (Mr Stopnick) Teddy Kempner (Mr Stopnick)
Aaron Gelkoff (Noah) and Charlie Gallacher (Noah) Aaron Gelkoff (Noah) and Charlie Gallacher (Noah)
Vincent Pirillo (Grandpa Gellman) and Sue Kelvin (Grandma Gellman) Vincent Pirillo (Grandpa Gellman) and Sue Kelvin (Grandma Gellman)
Sharond D. Clarke (Caroline Thibodeaux) and Ako Mitchell (The Dryer/The Bus) Sharond D. Clarke (Caroline Thibodeaux) and Ako Mitchell (The Dryer/The Bus)
Stuart Gellman (Alastair Gellman) Stuart Gellman (Alastair Gellman)
Naana Agyei-Ampadu (Dotty Moffett) Naana Agyei-Ampadu (Dotty Moffett)
Lauren Ward (Rose Stopnick Gellman) Lauren Ward (Rose Stopnick Gellman)
Nigel Lilley (Musical Director) Nigel Lilley (Musical Director)
T'shan Williams (The Radio), Ako Mitchell (The Dryer) and Sharon Rose (The Radio) T'shan Williams (The Radio), Ako Mitchell (The Dryer) and Sharon Rose (The Radio)
Angela Caesar (The Moon) Angela Caesar (The Moon)
Carole Stennett (The Radio), T'Shan Williams (The Radio) and Sharon Rose (The Radio) Carole Stennett (The Radio), T'Shan Williams (The Radio) and Sharon Rose (The Radio)
Me'sha Bryan (The Washing Machine) and Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline Thibodeaux) Me'sha Bryan (The Washing Machine) and Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline Thibodeaux)
Lauren Ward (Rose Stopnick Gellman) Lauren Ward (Rose Stopnick Gellman)
Josiah Choto (Joe Thibodeaux), Abiona Omonua (Emmie Thibodeaux) and Mickell Stewart-Grimes (Jackie Thibodeaux) Josiah Choto (Joe Thibodeaux), Abiona Omonua (Emmie Thibodeaux) and Mickell Stewart-Grimes (Jackie Thibodeaux)
Aaron Gelkoff (Noah Gellman) and Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline Thibodeaux) Aaron Gelkoff (Noah Gellman) and Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline Thibodeaux)
Aaron Gelkoff (Noah Gellman) and Me'sha Bryan (The Washing Machine) Aaron Gelkoff (Noah Gellman) and Me'sha Bryan (The Washing Machine)
Naana Agyei-Ampadu (Dotty Moffett) and Ako Mitchell (The Bus) Naana Agyei-Ampadu (Dotty Moffett) and Ako Mitchell (The Bus)
Alastair Brookshaw (Stuart Gellman) and Aaron Gelkoff (Noah Gellman) Alastair Brookshaw (Stuart Gellman) and Aaron Gelkoff (Noah Gellman)
Lauren Ward (Rose Stopnick Gellman), Alastair Brookshaw (Stuart Gellman), Teddy Kempner (Mr Stopnick), Vincent Pirillo (Grandpa Gellman), Sue Kelvin (Grandma Gellman) and Aaron Gelkoff (Noah Gellman) Lauren Ward (Rose Stopnick Gellman), Alastair Brookshaw (Stuart Gellman), Teddy Kempner (Mr Stopnick), Vincent Pirillo (Grandpa Gellman), Sue Kelvin (Grandma Gellman) and Aaron Gelkoff (Noah Gellman)
Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline Thibodeaux) , T'shan Williams (The Radio), Sharon Rose (The Radio), Carole Stennett (The Radio) and Me'sha Bryan (The Washing Machine) Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline Thibodeaux) , T'shan Williams (The Radio), Sharon Rose (The Radio), Carole Stennett (The Radio) and Me'sha Bryan (The Washing Machine)
Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline Thibodeaux) Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline Thibodeaux)