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Promotional image for A Little Night Music
Promotional image for A Little Night Music
Sharon D Clarke in Caroline, Or Change. Photo: Marc Brenner

Caroline, Or Change opened on May 11, 2017 at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester, in a production directed by Michael Longhurst and designed by Fly Davis.

This production wasn’t the UK premiere of Jeanne Tesori and Tony Kushner’s musical, which was first seen at the National in 2006.

But this story struck a chord at a time when British society – and theatre – was grappling with its own lack of diversity and opportunity for all.

Set in Louisiana in 1963, it was about the relationship between a young Jewish boy, Noah, and the black maid, Caroline, who is effectively incarcerated in a windowless basement of the house with a washing machine. This was a show that really sang, in every way. Caroline, Or Change reminds how much the past continues to shape the future, and that sometimes change is too slow to bear.

It had an excellent cast and boasted a knock-out performance by Sharon D Clarke as Caroline. She went on to win an Olivier for the role when the production transferred into the West End at the end of 2018. The show, with Clarke in the lead, was due to open at Studio 54 on Broadway on March 13 – the day after the New York theatre shutdown took place.

It is a pity New Yorkers are unlikely to see it, because the production is glorious, with The Stage describing it as “complex yet big-hearted, joyfully exuberant but sharply political”.

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