Show History



Tony Kushner's heart-wrenching, powerful tale of the relationship between a young Jewish boy and his family's African-American maid is loosely based on events from the author's own childhood in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Set in the civil rights era 1963, Caroline, Or Change was originally written for the San Francisco Opera. When that arrangement fell through, the project was picked up by the Public Theater and its Artistic Director, George C. Wolfe. Composer Jeanine Tesori was brought on to musicalize Kushner's libretto, and Wolfe suggested Tonya Pinkins for the pivotal title role.


Caroline, Or Change was first workshopped in October of 2002. The following year, Caroline, Or Change opened at the Public Theater on November 30, 2003. In addition to Tonya Pinkins, the cast included Harrison Chad, Anika Noni Rose, Chuck Cooper, Veanne Cox and Alice Playten. Instantly, there were rave reviews for Pinkins' tour-de-force performance and declarations that Caroline, Or Change was a landmark achievement in musical theater. The Public Theater engagement extended twice and subsequently transferred to Broadway.

Caroline, Or Change began previews at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on April 12, 2004 and opened on May 2, 2004. The show closed in August of 2004. Engagements followed in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, in which both Pinkins and Rose appeared alongside much of the original cast. Tonya Pinkins repeated her performance when Caroline, Or Change played London's Royal National Theater in the fall of 2006.