Musical about ‘history’ is about to make history

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By Alice Du Pont

"Caroline or Change," nominated for six Tony awards in 2004, is coming to the Quincy Music Theatre Dec. 11-13.

Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 3 p.m. All performances are at the Leaf Theatre, located at 118 East Washington Street in downtown Quincy, two blocks north of US. Highway 90.

The play centers around the relationship between two American families in the South in 1963. One family is middle class and Jewish and the other is poor and Christian. The play is based on the experiences of playwright Tony Kushner's experiences while growing up in Louisiana.

Directed by Carla Johnson, the first black director at the Quincy Music Theatre, the production also features for the first time a black actor in a leading role. The lead character is Caroline Thibodeaux, a 39-year-old maid in the home of a Jewish family in Louisiana.

Filled with various musical styles, the production includes opera, Motown, Delta blues, gospel, jazz, a little Latin and Jewish Klezmer.

The  lead role is played by Alicia Stephens, a Florida A&M University graduate. Her character spends most of the day alone in a hot, damp basement, where she soon starts talking with the radio, washer and dryer. The dryer, played by FAMU graduate and vocalist Fred Lee, is her tormenter.

Young Noah Gellman, who played William Bevine Thomas in his first community theater production, often joins Caroline in conversation. Caroline, however, soon becomes the substitute mother for the boy, who lost his mother. But Caroline has her hands full with her own four children and tiny wages.

The relationship between Caroline, Noah and his family forms the core of this musical about politics, relationships and race in 1963.

Tickets are on sale now at the theater ticket office 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday or by telephone at 875-9444. More information about the show and tickets are available online at qmtonline.com.

Send your comments to adupont@gadcotimes.com.