"Race, rage and civil rights are at the heart of this deeply personal story by Tony Kushner, the award-winning playwright who earned the Pulitzer Prize for his two-part drama Angels in America," according to Arden notes. "Kushner drew from his own childhood experiences to write Caroline, or Change, which centers on Caroline Thibodeaux, a divorced, middle-aged African-American maid who works for a Jewish family — the Gellmans — in early-1960s Louisiana. Caroline finds herself in the middle of a family conflict when eight-year-old Noah Gellman's stepmother allows Caroline to keep any money she finds in the child's pockets while doing the laundry. The title Caroline, or Change suggests the poignant double meaning of the spare change Noah leaves behind and the vast social changes occurring in Civil Rights-era America."
The musical was launched by The Public Theater in New York City, was moved to Broadway by commercial producers and had a London staging in 2006 with original star Tonya Pinkins.
Dense, largely sung-through, intimate, theatrical, comic and dramatic, the show requires serious actors and singers. Some speculated the musical would not necessarily have a regional life — partly because it doesn't fit into an easy category. Yet, Caroline, or Change has had (or will get) resident productions in major cities, including Philly, Washington, DC, Dallas, Boston and Memphis.
Jeanine Tesori's score blends blues, gospel, klezmer and traditional Jewish melodies. Tesori penned the music to Violet (Off-Broadway) and Twelfth Night and Thoroughly Modern Millie (both on Broadway). The cast includes Joilet F. Harris, Adé Laoye, Marsha Lawson, Tallia Brinson, Danielle Herbert, Griffin Back, Jay Pierce, Maureen Torsney-Weir, Russell Leib, Sherri L. Edelen, Adam Heller, Kelly J. Rucker, Thursday Farrar, Elyse McKay Taylor, Nicholas Blake Trawick, Malik Burrell and Alan Kutner.
The Arden creative team includes music director Eric Ebbenga, scenic designer James Kronzer, costume designer Rosemarie E. McKelvey, lighting designer Justin Townsend, sound designer Jorge Cousineau and choreographer Patricia Scott Hobbs.
The Arden is located at 40 N. 2nd Street, Old City Philadelphia. Tickets are $29-$45 and are available by calling (215) 922-1122 or visiting www.ardentheatre.org.