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Caroline, or Change transfers to Hampstead Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING its critically acclaimed sell-out run at Chichester Festival Theatre earlier this summer, Tony Kushner’s and Jeanine Tesori’s celebrated musical, Caroline, Or Change, is transferring to Hampstead Theatre where it runs from March 19 (previews from March 12) to April 21, 2018.

Sharon D. Clarke will reprise her role as Caroline Thibodeaux in this highly anticipated transfer which is directed by Michael Longhurst.

That old copper statue by the Courthouse downtown, honouring the dead Confederate soldier, ain’t there no more…

1963. In quiet Lake Charles, Louisiana, the destruction of a Confederate statue might just signal that change is in the air…But, whatever the progress of the civil rights movement, in the Gellman household things seem just the same – for now at least.

Eight year old Noah, heartbroken by the death of his mother and his father’s remarriage, sneaks down to the basement to spend time with the black maid he idolises, Caroline Thibodeaux: Caroline who runs everything.

Whilst the basement may seem a fantastical place – even the appliances have a voice of their own – Caroline’s work there is repetitive and badly paid. But when Mrs Gellman comes up with a way for her to take a little more money home, the consequences for Caroline and Noah’s relationship are not what anybody might have expected…

An Olivier Award-winning musical with a hugely original, highly eclectic and uniquely American score, Caroline, or Change creates an uplifting and profound portrait of America at a time of momentous social upheaval.

Sharon D Clarke’s other recent theatre credits include The Life (Southwark Playhouse), Pigs and Dogs (Royal Court Theatre), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, An Oak Tree, Everyman and The Amen Corner for which she won the 2014 Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress (National Theatre), A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes (Tricycle Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Rose Theatre, Kingston), Porgy and Bess (Open Air Theatre, Regents Park) and Ghost (Original London Cast, 2012 Olivier Award Nominee – Best Actress and Manchester Theatre Award winner – Best Actress),

She also played Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray (Shaftesbury Theatre), Mama Morton in Chicago (Adelphi Theatre) and Killer Queen in We Will Rock You (Original London Cast, 2003 Olivier Award Nominee – Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical and WhatsOnStage Theatregoers Choice Award winner).

Her other theatre credits include The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre), Fame (Scandinavian tour), Rent (Shaftesbury Theatre), Guys and Dolls (National Theatre), Mama I Want to Sing (Cambridge Theatre), Asaka in Once on this Island (Birmingham Rep/West End, 1995 Olivier Award Nominee – Best Performance in a Supporting Role), Little Shop of Horrors (Leicester Haymarket Theatre) and Medea (Theatr Clwyd/Young Vic).

She has also starred in four Pantomime seasons at the Hackney Empire (Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, Mother Goose and Cinderella, directed by Susie McKenna).

Her film and television credits include Doctors, Silent Witness, Holby City (series regular), Unforgotten, You, Me and Them II, Death in Paradise, New Tricks, Psychobitches, Bush, Tau, Sugarhouse, Secret Society, Beautiful People, Broken Glass and Tumble Down.

Michael Longhurst is an award-winning stage director. He returns to Hampstead Theatre following his acclaimed production of Gloria this summer. His lauded production of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus at the National Theatre featuring live orchestral accompaniment from the Southbank Sinfonia will return to the Olivier in 2018.

His Royal Court production of Constellations starring Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall transferred to the West End, winning the Evening Standard Award for Best Play and received four Olivier award nominations, and ran on Broadway starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson who was Tony-nominated. He also directed Jake Gyllenhaal in his American stage debut at the Roundabout Theatre, New York in If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet.

Further casting will be announced in due course.

Also new at Hampstead in 2018, the UK premiere of Sarah Burgess’ breathtakingly witty Dry Powder, directed by Anna Ledwich ( January 26 to March 3).