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Caroline, Or Change transfers to the West End starring Sharon D. Clarke

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CAROLINE, Or Change, the celebrated musical written by Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America, with a score from Tony Award-winning Jeanine Tesori, will transfer to the West End’s Playhouse Theatre from November 20, 2018 to February 9, 2019.

Olivier Award-winning actress Sharon D. Clarke will reprise the title role of Caroline Thibodeaux, with further casting to be announced in due course.

Directed by Michael Longhurst, this five-star production received phenomenal critical praise when it opened at Chichester Festival Theatre last year and again following its transfer to Hampstead Theatre, where it is currently sold-out until April 21.

Louisiana, 1963. Revolution is in the air, though not so much for Caroline, the poorly paid maid toiling endlessly in the sweltering basement of the Gellman household. It’s a fantastical, magical place amidst the piles of laundry and singing washing machines, especially for eight-year-old Noah Gellman who sneaks downstairs to see her whenever he can. Yet a simple gesture to leave more money in Caroline’s pocket is about to test who and how far the winds of change can ever really reach…

Winner of the 2007 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, Caroline, Or Change is a playful, funny, and deeply moving portrait of America at a time of momentous social upheaval, set to an uplifting and profound score of soul, blues, classical and traditional Jewish folk music.

Partly inspired by his own boyhood, the book and lyrics are by Tony Kushner, author of the ground-breaking Angels in America, his two-part epic drama about the AIDS epidemic in 1980’s New York which recently ran at the National Theatre, is currently playing at the Neil Simon Theatre in New York, was made into an HBO mini-series and inspired an opera and musical work.

Kushner’s film credits include screenplays Fences starring and directed by Denzel Washington, Lincoln, Munich which he co-wrote for Steven Spielberg and the forthcoming remake of West Side Story, also for Spielberg. Other credits include The Intellectual Homosexual’s Guide to Capatilism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, Hydriotaphia, Slavs!:Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness and adaptations of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children and The Good Person of Szechwan.

Music is by Jeanine Tesori, who wrote the Tony Award-winning Best Original Score to Fun Home, alongside Lisa Kron’s book and lyrics; the music for Broadway, West End and international touring productions of Shrek The Musical; eleven new songs for the stage adaptation of Thoroughly Modern Millie; and the score for Broadway production, Violet.

In addition to Caroline, Or Change, her work with Tony Kushner includes incidential music for Mother Courage and Her Children and their opera A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck. Film scores include Nights in Rodanthe, The Little Mermaid: Ariels Beginning and Mulan II. Tesori’s opera The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me, premiered at the Kennedy Center in 2013.

Director Michael Longhurst’s credits include the recent revival of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus (National Theatre) and Nick Payne’s Constellations starring Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall at the Royal Court and in the West End and with Ruth Wilson and Jake Gyllenhaal on Broadway. Longhurst also worked with Gyllenhaal on his American stage debut in If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet (Roundabout Theatre, New York).

His other credits include Gloria (Hampstead Theatre), Belleville (Donmar Warehouse), Bad Jews (Theatre Royal Bath/West End), and Linda (Royal Court).

Olivier Award-winner Sharon D. Clarke has enjoyed a long established stage career with credits including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and The Amen Corner (National Theatre), Ghost The Musical (Piccadilly Theatre), The Life (Southwark Playhouse), Porgy and Bess (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Hairspray (Shaftesbury Theatre) and We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre). On TV, she is known for playing Lola Griffin in BBC’s Holby City.

Designs for Caroline, Or Change are by Fly Davis, with choreography by Ann Yee, musical direction by Nigel Lilley, lighting by Jack Knowles, sound by Paul Arditti, casting by Charlotte Sutton CDG and children’s casting by Debbie O’Brien.

Official Website.

The West End premiere of Gore Vidal’s sharp political drama The Best Man, starring Martin Shaw, continues at the Playhouse Theatre until May 12. It will be followed – from June 16 to November 3, 2018 – by Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s The Jungle.