MUSICAL REVIEW: Caroline, Or Change ★★★★

Caroline, Or Change
Playhouse Theatre, London
Tuesday 20th November 2018 - Saturday 2nd March 2019

With a combination of Blues, Motown, and Jewish style folk in this musical with lyrics from Tony Kushner (Angels in America), 'Caroline, Or Change' tells the story of the titular character, Caroline Thibodeaux, a black maid who serves the Gellman Family for only $30 a week, to help provide for her family, and shares a bond with the young Gellman son, Noah (Aaron Gelkoff), who secretly leaves money in his pants to be washed, which results in Caroline reluctantly refusing to take the money until the amount grows and she starts to take.

Sharon D Clarke, a veteran to TV and Stage, excels in the role of Caroline, to which she embodies such a no-nonsense strong female voice to which would inspire any young women, needless of background or colour. She engulfs the stage in her presence, and when interacting with the whole cast really electrifies her performance and bond with each actor she delivers scenes with. This can also be said in the case for the whole cast on stage, as well as the band visible from the side wings, whose energy sparks throughout and never lets go. 

The music in this musical is also sublime and really clever in giving voices to inanimate objects, such as the radio and washing machine, in numbers that are uplifting and real fun to watch on stage, this being clear from the joy that you can see is being had on stage from everyone involved. As a flowing musical which never seems to halt, Director Michael Longhurst makes stunning use of the revolved staging and mobile stairwells which help join set pieces together but allow to re-shuffle to depict different areas of settings, especially in the Gellman household. In an era which I know very little about, the production does very little in belittle those with the same notion, to which instead, 'Caroline, Or Change' fully educates in offering a full spread of different cultures and how they interacted with one another in a time of segregation, becoming a musical so profound that it's amazing how the production is not more in the musical domain. 

Overall, 'Caroline, Or Change' is a powerhouse of a production with Sharon D Clarke giving a performance of a lifetime with Tony Kushner's Writing, Book & lyrics showcasing an era of pure emotion and not holding back from themes and topics which should be seen and pushed more on a modern audience.  


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