Caroline, or Change


Writers: Tony Kushner Jeanine Tesori


Show Information

Conceived By
Number of Acts
First Produced
Multiple Settings
Time & Place
lake charles, louisiana, 1963
Cast Size
Orchestra Size
Musical Staging
Casting Notes

Includes adult, late teen, young adult, child, mature adult characters


1963, Lake Charles, Louisiana. While Martin Luther King Jr. is preaching and young demonstrators are marching, Caroline Thibodeaux, an African-American single mother of four, is underground, in the basement of the Gellman’s home, where nothing ever changes. Her company is the hum of the washer, the croon of the radio, the heat of the dryer, and -- occasionally -- 8-year-old Noah Gellman. Noah is a motherless boy who is unable to connect with either his eager-to-please stepmother, Rose, or his distant and grieving father, Stuart, and he idolizes Caroline. Rose decides that any change Noah leaves in his pants pockets can be taken by Caroline when she does the laundry. In response, Noah quietly deposits quarters in the bleach cup, hoping to somehow become a part of Caroline’s life. Caroline, loath to take money from a child, nevertheless needs to provide for her family, including the headstrong, rebellious, and hopeful Emmie.

From the quarters in the bleach cup to the protests in the streets, change is coming for Caroline, whether she wants it or not. Loosley inspired by remembrances of bookwriter and lyricist Tony Kushner’s own childhood as a young Jewish boy in Louisiana, Caroline, or Change is a breathtaking, original, through-sung musical that is both a glimpse at a moment in history and a powerful tour-de-force character study. Featuring music by Jeanine Tesori that runs the gamut from gospel to Motown to classical to Jewish folk and klezmer, Caroline, or Change is a remarkable addition to the contemporary musical theatre canon.

Lead Characters

Caroline, or Change guide sections