Thursday, September 18, 2008

Caroline or Change (Court Theatre) – 9/18/08 (revisited 10/11/08)

Court Theater's production of Tony Kushner / Jeanine Tesori's "Caroline or Change" I think will eventually become one of the landmarks Chicago theater in the early 21st century. I saw the show on Broadway and thought that it was a show to be admired rather than loved; in a way, it got lost in the large theater and fancy staging. Not here. The Court Theater's intimate auditorium, expansive stage, perfect acoustics, and South Side location is the perfect setting for this musical about the internal struggles of a black maid living amidst the social upheavals during the 1960s. Kushner's script is elegantly structured and disarmingly direct, while Tesori's music creates a fabric that is at once indicative of the times yet wholly contemporary. The performances are award-worthy: E. Faye Butler gives a performance of great force and majesty that is acted first and sung secondly, and the kid actors awesomely keep up with her every step of the way. Charles Newell provides his always insightful direction, and Doug Peck once again proves why he is becoming one of the most sought-after musical directors around.

Rating: ***** (out of *****)

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