The “Caroline, or Change” book and lyrics are by Tony Kushner (Pulitzer Prize, “Angels in America”). The score is by Jeanine Tesori (Tony Award, “Fun Home”) and the musicial will be directed by MTC Artistic Director Pierre-Jacques Brault.
Veteran actress and Mercury associate artistic director Kelvette Beacham will star as Caroline Thibodeaux. The character is an African-American maid, single parent and the mother of four children earning $30 a week working for the Jewish Gellman family in 1963 in Lake Charles, La.
“Caroline, or Change” takes place on the eve of John F. Kennedy’s assassination when the world is about to change. But is Caroline ready to change with it? This emotional and uplifting musical, inspired by Pulitzer-prize winner author Kushner’s boyhood, deftly mixes blues, soul, Motown, classical music and Jewish folk songs to create a beautiful, uplifting and deeply moving portrait of America at a time of momentous social upheaval spurred by the civil rights movement. If you enjoyed Mercury’s “Ragtime,” you will love “Caroline, or Change.”
Beacham appeared previously at MTC in last season’s sold-out production of “Hairspray” and as Mrs. Mullins in the 2017 Best of Theater Best Musical Award-winner (Cleveland Jewish News and Cleveland Scene Magazine), “Carousel.”
Broadway’s Derrick Cobey makes his MTC debut as The Dryer/The Bus. He most recently appeared in the Broadway production of “The Scottsboro Boys.” The remaining “Caroline, or Change” cast features: Bob Abelman, Jyrah Graves, Emily Grodzik, Keyonna Hughley, Colleen Longshaw, Brian Marshall, Kyle Monaghan, Sunayna Smith, Lynette Turner, Cindi Verbelun and Carter Welo. The creative team includes Eddie Carney (musical director), Nicholas Thornburg (scenic designer), Michael Jarett (lighting designer).
Tickets can be purchased at mercurytheatrecompany.org or by calling 216-771-5862. Adult tickets are $20, seniors (60 and older) are $18 and students with ID are $16. Discounts for groups of 10 or more are available.
“Caroline, or Change” was nominated for six Tony Awards in 2004 and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 2007. Tesori’s Drama Desk Award-Winning score combines spiritual music with blues, Motown, classical and Jewish klezmer music.
Kushner is a playwright best known for his two-part Pulitzer Prize-Winning epic “Angels in America: a Gay Fantasia on National Themes,” for which he also received back-to-back Tony Awards. He co-authored the screenplay for the 2005 film “Munich” and wrote the screenplay for the 2012 film “Lincoln” (both directed by Steven Spielberg). Kushner’s plays “A Bright Room Called Day” and “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures” have been produced locally to recent critical acclaim. In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded Kushner the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor for achievement in the arts conferred to an individual.
Tesori is the most prolific and honored female theatrical composer in history, with five Broadway musicals and four Tony nominations. In 2015, she shared the Tony award for Best Musical with Lisa Kron for “Fun Home,” which is currently running on Broadway. Tesori and Kron are the first all-female composing team to win this award. Tesori won the 2004 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music for “Caroline, or Change.” Her other major works include “Shrek The Musical,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Violet.”
The Mercury Theatre Co., now in its 20th year, exists to create extraordinary theatrical experiences and to advance theatre as a means of educating, challenging and inspiring the greater Cleveland community and its young people through family-friendly programing of rarely seen and premier works, innovative staging, and through its educational outreach and My First Musical program.
Mercury seeks to be a community trendsetter for excellence in theatre production and education. It strives to lead in the creation of wildly innovative works of musical theater, in training and generating unique programs for using theater as an inspiration for creative development.