CAROLINE, OR CHANGE

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

£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

Choose a date and select your own seats online

12 Mar - 21 Apr 2018
£10 - £37

Box Office: 020 7722 9301

★★★★★ Sunday Times | ★★★★★ Mail on Sunday | ★★★★★ The Telegraph 
★★★★ The Guardian | ★★★★ The Times | ★★★★ Financial Times 
★★★★ The Independent | ★★★★ Evening Standard | ★★★★★ The Stage


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 earlier this summer.

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 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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  • 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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  • 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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Artistic team

BOOK AND LYRICS

TONY KUSHNER

MUSIC

JEANINE TESORI

DIRECTOR

MICHAEL LONGHURST

 

Cast

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)

Priority booking for The Downstairs Club will open at 11am on Thursday 7 September. Find out more here.