SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is thrilled to open its subscription season – and present the very first production in its newly renovated theater – with the Broadway musical, “Caroline, or Change.” The show, which ran on and off-Broadway as well as in London, features book and lyrics by Tony Kushner and score by Jeanine Tesori.
Set in 1963 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, “Caroline, or Change” tells the compelling story of Caroline, an African-American maid, and her Jewish employers, the Gellman family. With money tight and her employers unable to give her a raise, Caroline is permitted to keep the pocket change she finds while doing laundry even as she finds it difficult to cope with the changes in her life and the burgeoning civil rights movement.
The score weaves blues, gospel and traditional Jewish klezmer music with lyrics by the playwright to tell the story of a changing America in a turbulent time. It’s an intensely personal story by Tony/Pulitzer/Academy Award-winning writer Kushner (Angels in America, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln). Director and choreographer is Jim Weaver.
“This show is about growth and the realization that we all must, eventually, evolve,” said Weaver. “The correlation between African-American and Jewish oppression, while still dealing with a racial and cultural divide, is not your usual topic for a musical. However, in this instance, it does highlight the similarities between our human experiences more so than our differences.”
The cast includes Jannie Jones as Caroline, with Tommy Lelyo and Charlie Shoemaker alternating in the role of Noah Gellman; Caroline and Noah are the central figures in the story. Other cast members include well-known WBTT players Teresa Stanley, Brian L. Boyd and young phenom Samuel Waite.
Music director is Nikki Ervin; live band is Ervin on piano; Joe Bruno, Bass; John Walker, drums; Brennan Stylez, auxiliary keys, and Scott Blum, percussion. Scenic design by Michael Newton-Brown. Lighting designer is Michael Pasquini. Production stage manager is Juanita Munford. Property master is Annette Breazeale. Sound engineer is Patrick Russini. Costume designer is Patricia Vandenberg. Wardrobe manager is Adrienne Pitts. Wig designer is Travis McCue.
“The title character of ‘Caroline’ is one of the most powerful female roles in musical theater. We feel this is a show that will open minds and touch hearts, and spark spirited discussion once the curtain comes down,” said WBTT Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. “We are particularly excited to perform this renowned production in our new, state-of-the-art theater. We know our audience will enjoy the updated amenities!”
Show runs January 8 – February 16, 2020, with evening performances Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $45/adults (plus applicable ticket fees); $20/students and active duty military (ages 25 and under, with valid ID). Call the Box Office (941-366-1505) or go to westcoastblacktheatre.org.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. Its mission is to produce professional theater that promotes and celebrates the African-American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African-American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information about WBTT, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call 941-366-1505.