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BWW Album Review: CAROLINE, OR CHANGE (The New Broadway Cast Recording) is Truly Remarkable & Moving

All involved have poured every ounce of their souls and hearts into this record.

Caroline, or Change

Christmas came early when Broadway Records in collaboration with Roundabout Theatre Company, under their new Broadway Records label imprint Roundabout Records, released Caroline, or Change (The New Broadway Cast Recording) on digital platforms last week. The stunning two-disc recording captures every marvelous moment of the mostly sung-through score, gifting fans of Broadway a truly remarkable way to access this show no matter where they are.

Personally, between WICKED, AVENUE Q, and being a freshman in college, I never gave any time to Caroline, or Change in its original Broadway iteration. However, on a whim, this past October, I made my first return to sitting in the audience of a Broadway show by purchasing a Sunday matinee ticket to the revival. I had no idea what to expect, and I was blown away, moved to tears, and left Studio 54 feeling uplifted and forever changed. I don't think this show got the due it deserved some 17 years ago because it was ahead of its time. The conversations our nation has finally gotten around to having after the death of George Floyd has made America ready for this musical. And, luckily, the Roundabout Theater Company is giving us a resplendent production many will talk about for years to come.

Absolutely earning the position of her name sitting above the title, Sharon D Clarke as Caroline Thibodeaux is an incredible force to be reckoned with. Clarke commands the full attention of the listener with her indefatigable strength, tangible emotionality, and pitch perfect performance. Listening to Clarke sing this score will forever etch every nuance of the work in the mind of listeners, setting the golden standard for portrayals of Caroline Thibodeaux going forward. Clarke's renditions of "Duets: Noah Go to Sleep" and "Lot's Wife" are instant Broadway classics, but there isn't a single performance of hers on the recording that isn't an absolute masterclass in powerful and engaging acting.

A true delight to see in performance, Samantha Williams is just as wonderful as Emmie Thibodeaux on Caroline, or Change (The New Broadway Cast Recording). Williams' vigor and energy imbues "Duets: No One Waitin'," "Duets: 'Night Mamma," "Mr. Stopnik and Emmie," "Kitchen Fight," and especially "Epilogue" with incredible life. Like Clarke, Williams' performance is a star-making moment in what is sure to be a fruitful and long career.

Other standout performances come from N'Kenge as The Moon, Nasia Thomas as Radio 1, Nya as Radio 2, Harper Miles as Radio 3, Tamika Lawrence as Dotty Moffett, Arica Jackson as The Washing Machine, Kevin S. McAllister as The Bus, and Caissie Levy as Rose Stopnick Gellman. Numbers such as N'Kenge';s "Moon Change;" Thomas, Nya, and Miles' "Salty Teardrops;" Lawrence's "Dotty and Caroline" and "Sunday Morning;" Jackson's "Laundry Quintet," "1943," and "Ooh Child;" McAllister's "The Bus;" and Levy's "Long Distance" are favorites from the dual album. The entire cast and all involved in the recording have poured every ounce of their souls and hearts into this record, assuring it is nothing short of astounding.

Digital copies of Caroline, or Change (The New Broadway Cast Recording) are available for purchase now. Physical CDs are expected January 14, 2022 and can be pre-ordered from Broadway Records HERE.

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