Variety reported that Tonya Pinkins — lauded for her turn as the title character in The Public Theater debut of the musical in late 2003 — has not yet signed a contract and that the producers of the commercial run had pulled an ad planned for the March 14 Sunday New York Times.
Rocco Landesman, one of the producing partners, said in a statement: "We're wrapping up final negotiations this week, but without certain key deals finalized, the producers were uncomfortable going forward with an ad this weekend. Everything is now back on track."
A new first preview date of April 12 was announced (a day earlier than previously mentioned). Opening is still set for May 2 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.
In the meantime, tickets are not yet on sale. Tickets are expected to go on sale via Telecharge March 28 (March 21 had been previously mentioned, with AmericanExpress cardholders getting early crack at tix March 3, but that did not happen). For updates, call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200. The Eugene O'Neill Theatre box office is expected to open March 29.
The March 11 Variety report indicated that the producers and Pinkins had not yet agreed on the Tony Award winner's salary in the musical by librettist Tony Kushner and composer Jeanine Tesori. Some would say Pinkins' fierce portrayal of a black maid in a white Louisiana household in the 1960s is key to the success of the moody, idea-filled show. Her final number, in which she struggles with the idea of change, both within herself and within her community, brought down the house at The Public.
Others might argue the show's strength is the muscularity of the score and the tension of the characters' relationships.
The show, directed by George C. Wolfe, ended its twice extended Off-Broadway run Feb. 1. The final weekend was sold out.
The Broadway production is capitalized at $6 million.
Late into The Public run it was announced the production would transfer to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on April 13 (the new start is April 12) for an opening of May 2. The ambitious, serious work is expected to offer serious competition in the 2004 Tony Awards, particularly in the direction, score and leading actress categories.
Pinkins won the 1992 Tony Award for Featured Actress in a Musical for Jelly's Last Jam.
Caroline, or Change opened at the Public Theater on Nov. 30, 2003. The musical opened to divided reviews, but has won solid audience response and praise for lead actress Pinkins' no-holds-barred performance.
Composer Tesori told Playbill On-Line that her wish is to have a recording put together around the time of the spring commercial move, so as to incorporate some tweaks and refinements she, Kushner and Wolfe want.
The show, which began previews Oct. 29, 2003, marks the first collaboration between Tesori and Kushner, as well as Kushner's first musical.
The cast also featured Chuck Cooper, Veanne Cox, Reathel Bean, Harrison Chad, Tracy Nicole Chapman, David Costabile, Marcus Carl Franklin, Marva Hicks, Capathia Jenkins, Larry Keith, Ramona Keller, Adriane Lenox, Alice Playten, Anika Noni Rose, Kevin Tate and Chandra Wilson. It's thought the entire company will move onto Broadway.
Caroline is the black maid of the Gellmans, a Louisiana 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 Southerners and a family argument surrounding the spare change perpetually found in the boy's pants pockets.
Caroline, or Change played the Newman Theatre in The Public complex, 425 Lafayette Street.
The list of producers for the Broadway run is a long one, Variety reported. The producers are Carole Shorenstein Hays, Jujamcyn Theaters, HBO Films, Frederick De Mann, Scott Rudin, Hendel/Morten/Wiesenfeld, Bergere/Fox Theatricals/Manocherian, Roger Berlind, Clear Channel Entertainment, Joan Cullman, Greg Holland/Scott Nederlander, Margo Lion, Daryl Roth and Frederick Zollo in association with the Public Theater.
The playing schedule for Caroline, or Change through April 25 is Monday-Saturday at 8 PM, and Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM. The week of April 25: Tuesday-Saturday at 8 PM, Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM, Sunday at 6:30 PM (opening night).
Eugene O'Neill Theatre is at 230 W. 49th Street. Tickets range from $25 to $100.