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Arden Theatre Company presents Caroline, or Change
March 8 - April 8, 2007 • PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE! • Book and lyrics by Tony Kushner • Music by Jeanine Tesori • Directed by Terrence J. Nolen

February 8, 2007

Philadelphia, PA - Arden Theatre Company will present the Philadelphia premiere of Caroline, or Change, from March 8 to April 8, 2007. Join Arden Theatre Company for this powerful, provocative musical by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, starring acclaimed Philadelphia actress Joilet F. Harris in the title role of Caroline. Arden Theatre Company is located at 40 N. 2nd Street, Old City Philadelphia. For tickets call 215-922-1122 or visit

Race, rage and civil rights are at the heart of this deeply personal story by Tony Kushner, the award-winning playwright who earned the Pulitzer Prize for his two-part drama Angels in America. Kushner drew from his own childhood experiences to write Caroline, or Change, which centers on Caroline Thibodeaux, a divorced, middle-aged African-American maid who works for a Jewish family - the Gellmans - in early-1960's Louisiana. Caroline finds herself in the middle of a family conflict when eight-year-old Noah Gellman's stepmother allows Caroline to keep any money she finds in the child's pockets while doing the laundry. The title Caroline, or Change suggests the poignant double meaning of the spare change Noah leaves behind and the vast social changes occurring in Civil Rights-era America.

Originally commissioned as an opera, Caroline, or Change features a virtuosic, sung-through score by Jeanine Tesori, composer of Thoroughly Modern Millie and Violet - which had its Philadelphia premiere at Arden Theatre Company in 1999. Richly blending blues, gospel, klezmer and traditional Jewish melodies, Tesori's music provides the dynamic, breathtaking medium for Kushner's moving tale.

Caroline, or Change opened on Broadway in May 2004 and was applauded by The New York Times as "an extraordinary new musical." The show earned six Tony Award nominations - Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Best Actress (Tonya Pinkins) and Best Direction (George C. Wolfe) - and a win for Best Featured Actress to Anika Noni Rose (currently starring in the film Dreamgirls).

Says Arden's co-founder Terrence J. Nolen, who is directing the show's Philadelphia premiere, "I first heard about Caroline, or Change from Jeanine Tesori when she first started working on it. I couldn't believe that Tony Kushner-one of our greatest writers - was working on a musical. And what a musical they have created. Caroline, or Change is a landmark piece that truly pushes the boundaries of what musical theatre can do. It tells a story that is both personal and epic - a story of heartbreak, of hope and of enormous power. We are thrilled to be able to share this extraordinary musical with our audiences."

Starring as Caroline Thibodeaux is acclaimed Philadelphia actress Joilet F. Harris, last seen at the Arden in Violet, Third and Indiana, and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well & Living in Paris. Harris has extensive stage and screen credits and currently plays Officer Caroline Massey on HBO's series The Wire. Caroline, or Change features a cast of 17 spectacular actors including three child performers in their Arden debuts: Griffin Back (Noah Gellman), Nicholas Trawick (Jackie Thibodeaux) and Malik Burrell (Joe Thibodeaux). Rounding out the ensemble are Adam Heller (Stuart Gellman), Sherri L. Edelen (Rose Stopnick Gellman), Maureen Torsney-Weir (Grandma Gellman), Russell Leib (Grandpa Gellman), Alan Kutner (Mr. Stopnick), Elyse McKay Taylor (Emmie Thibodeaux), Kelly J. Rucker (Dotty Moffett), Thursday Farrar (The Moon), Jay Pierce (The Dryer/The Bus), Adé Laoye (The Washing Machine), Marsha Lawson (The Radio 1), Tallia Brinson (The Radio 2), and Danielle Herbert (The Radio 3).

The Arden's F. Otto Haas Theatre has been strikingly reconfigured to create an intimate exchange between the audience members and the performance. The audience surrounds the multi-level set and peers "below ground" into the sweltering basement where Caroline toils doing the laundry - and is kept company by characters including The Washing Machine, The Dryer and The Radio. "Above ground," the audience is privy to the Gellman and Thibodeaux households set against the backdrop of the deep South. Caroline, or Change features a stellar production and creative team including set designer James Kronzer (Opus, The Baker's Wife), lighting designer Justin Townsend, sound designer Jorge Cousineau (Opus, The BFG), costume designer Rosemarie E. McKelvey (Winesburg, Ohio) and choreographer Patricia Scott Hobbs (managing director at Philadelphia's Freedom Theatre). The live musical ensemble is under the direction of Eric Ebbenga (Sweeney Todd).

Tony Kushner's plays include A Bright Room Called Day; Angels In America, Parts One and Two; Slavs!; Homebody/Kabul; and Caroline, or Change. He has written adaptations of Corneille's The Illusion, S.Y. Ansky's The Dybbuk, and Brecht's The Good Person of Sezuan and Mother Courage and Her Children (produced last year at New York's Public Theatre with star Meryl Streep and music by Jeanine Tesori). He wrote the screenplay for the Mike Nichols' HBO television version of Angels In America and for Steven Spielberg's film Munich.

Jeanine Tesori is a composer, record producer and conductor. She recently won the honor of being the only female composer to have two musicals running on Broadway concurrently - Caroline, or Change and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Ms. Tesori won the 2004 Drama Desk Award for Best Score for Caroline, or Change. With lyricist and librettist Brian Crawley, she wrote the score to the Off-Broadway musical Violet which earned several awards.

Stay tuned for information on Caroline Conversations, a series of enriching symposia open to the community to discuss issues raised by the musical Caroline, or Change. Caroline, or Change was made possible in part by a grant from the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative, a program of the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts. Caroline Conversations series is funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. The Philadelphia premiere of Caroline, or Change is sponsored by The Jewish Exponent and inside Magazine. Media partners include The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News,, The Philadelphia Tribune, WHYY and KYW Newsradio.

The Arden is accessible to people with disabilities, providing wheelchair accessibility, assisted listening devices and large print programs at every performance. Accessible seating is available by reservation. For more information, call the Arden Box Office at 215.922.1122.

Caroline, or Change previews begin Thursday, March 8 and run through March 13. Opening night (sold out) is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 14. The show runs through April 8, 2007. Tickets, currently on sale, are $27-45, with group discounts available. Call the Arden Box Office at 215.922.1122, visit or stop by our box office at 40 N. 2nd Street in Philadelphia.

Arden Theatre Company
40 N. 2nd Street, Old City Philadelphia

March 8 - April 8, 2007
Previews: March 8-13
Opening night (sold out): 7 p.m. March 14

$27-$45, with group discounts available
Call the Box Office at 215-922-1122 or visit

Book and lyrics by Tony Kushner
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Directed by Terrence J. Nolen
Music Direction by Eric Ebbenga
Scenic Design by James Kronzer
Costume Design by Rosemarie E. McKelvey
Lighting Design by Justin Townsend
Sound Design by Jorge Cousineau
Choreography by Patricia Scott Hobbs

Caroline Thibodeaux: Joilet F. Harris (resident of Mt. Airy, PA)
The Washing Machine: Adé Laoye (resident of Philadelphia)
The Radio 1: Marsha Lawson (resident of New York, NY)
The Radio 2: Tallia Brinson (resident of New York, NY)
The Radio 3: Danielle Herbert (resident of Philadelphia)
Noah Gellman: Griffin Back (resident of Cherry Hill, NJ)
The Dryer/The Bus: Jay Pierce (resident of Brooklyn, NY)
Grandma Gellman: Maureen Torsney-Weir (resident of Berwyn, PA)
Grandpa Gellman: Russell Leib (resident of Mt. Airy, PA)
Rose Stopnick Gellman: Sherri L. Edelen (resident of Laurel, MD)
Stuart Gellman: Adam Heller (resident of New York, NY)
Dotty Moffett: Kelly J. Rucker (resident of Weehawken, NJ)
The Moon: Thursday Farrar (resident of New York, NY)
Emmie Thibodeaux: Elyse McKay Taylor (resident of Philadelphia)
Jackie Thibodeaux: Nicholas Trawick (resident of Philadelphia)
Joe Thibodeaux: Malik Burrell (resident of Philadelphia)
Mr. Stopnick: Alan Kutner (resident of Havertown, PA)

FOR PHOTOS, INTERVIEWS, AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, CONTACT: Beth Yeagle, Director of Marketing and Public Relations 215-922-8900 x22

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©2009 Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. For tickets, call 215.922.1122.
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