Court Theatre kicks off its 2008-09 season with librettist-lyricist Tony Kushner and composer Jeanine Tesori's musical drama set in 1963 Louisiana. Artistic director Charles Newell directs, with musical direction by Doug Peck, Sept. 11-Oct. 19. Opening is Sept. 20.
"The coins that eight-year-old Noah carelessly leaves behind in his pockets are more than just spare change to Caroline Thibodeax, an African American housekeeper working in a stifling basement laundry room in Louisiana in 1963," according to Court notes. "Blending blues, gospel, and traditional Jewish melodies in a breathtaking score, this deeply personal story from Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner (Angels in America) is drawn from the playwright's own childhood. The vast social change taking place in 1960s America is the perfect backdrop for a powerful story…"
Butler returns to Court Theatre were she was last seen in Little Foxes. She most recently starred in Ain't Misbehavin' at The Goodman and played the title role in Northlight Theatre's hit Ella.
The cast of Caroline, or Change includes Malcolm Durning (alternating with Jack Mulopulos) as Noah, Kate Frye as Rose, and Rob Lindley as Stuart, with Melanie Brezill as Emmie Thibodeaux, Starr Busby as Radio 3, Rebecca Lynn Davis as Radio 2, Donavan Epison as Jackie Thibodeaux, Donica Lynn Henderson as Radio 1, Dennis Kelly as Mr. Stopnick, Peter Kevoian as Grandpa Gellman, Iris Lieberman as Grandma Gellman, Harriet Nzinga Plumpp as Washing Machine and Moon, Jacqueline Williams as Dotty Moffett, Micah Dejon Williams as Joe Thibodeaux, and Byron Glenn Willis as Dryer and Bus.
The designers are John Culbert (scenic design), Joshua Horvath (sound design), Robert Denton (lighting design) and Jacqueline Firkins (costume design). Ellen Hay is the production stage manager, and Wendy Woodward is the assistant stage manager. Sean Blake is the movement consultant. Caroline, or Change was first workshopped in May 1999 at The Public Theater, where it opened in 2003. After an Off-Broadway run it transferred to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre and ran for a total of 136 performances, starring Tonya Pinkins in the title role. It was nominated for six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Actress, Best Score and Best Book. The musical won the Olivier Award in 2007, for Best New Musical.
Tickets are available at the box office, 5535 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago; or at (773) 753-4472 or online at www.CourtTheatre.org.
Court Theatre is the professional theatre in residence at the University of Chicago.