Caroline, or Change Closes at Syracuse Stage

Greta-Oglesby-Performs-Title-Role-in-Kushner-and-Tesoris-Caroline-or-Change-at-Syracuse-Stage-20010101Running through February 26, Caroline, or Change will be performed in the Archbold Theatre at Syracuse Stage, 820 East Genesee Street. Tickets range $18-$50 and are available at the Syracuse Stage Box Office, 315-443-3275 or

Playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and composer Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie and Shrek: The Musical), join forces on this musical. 

About the show: "The year is 1963—civil rights and Kennedy—and in the Gellman household in Lake Charles, Louisiana, eight-year-old Noah struggles with the loss of his mother, while Caroline, the family’s African American maid, struggles as a single Mom of four children. Through Caroline and Noah’s friendship, Kushner and Tesori explore thoughts on economic hardship and racial inequity that are relevant today as they were in the early 60s. Rich with humor, humanity and of course music—ranging from blues to gospel to traditional Jewish melodies—Caroline, or Change delivers a deep and uplifting message about change, in big ways and small."

Presenting sponsors are The Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation and Arts Engage at Syracuse University. Sponsors are the National Endowment for the Arts, M&T Bank, Lockheed Martin MS2, Constellation Energy Nuclear Group, and Carrier Corporation. Media sponsors are, Urban CNY, WAER, and WCNY. Syracuse Stage’s 2011-2012 season sponsors are The Post-Standard and Time Warner Cable.

The title role in Caroline, or Change will be portrayed by Greta Oglesby, winner of an Ivey Award for her portrayal of Caroline in the acclaimed Guthrie Theatre production.

Oglesby’s numerous credits include originating the role of Aunt Esther in August Wilsons’ Gem of the Ocean (Goodman Theatre and Oregon Shakespeare Festival), the title role in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre), the role of Mother Shaw in Crowns (Guthrie Theatre), Gertrude in Hamlet (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), and singing a selection from Caroline, or Change at the Kennedy Center during a special event celebrating the work of Jeanine Tesori.

“Greta is an extraordinary actress with incredible power, incredible intellect and incredible range,” said Director/Choreographer Marcela Lorca, who directed Caroline, or Change at the Guthrie Theatre, where she serves as Movement Director and has choreographed more than 20 plays and coached over 100.

Musically Directing the Syracuse Stage production is Christopher Drobny, whose credits include Antony and Cleopatra directed by Vanessa Redgrave (Joseph Papp Public Theatre), The Entertainer with Brian Murray (Classic Stage Company), and The Threepenny Opera with Betty Buckley (Williamstown Theatre Festival).

Including Oglesby, the 17 member cast includes 14 professional Equity actors: Michelle Barber (as Grandma Gellman) reprising her role from the Guthrie, Larry Block (as Mr. Stopnick) who will appear in the new NBC series Smash, Doug Eskew (as The Dryer and The Bus) who appeared previously at Syracuse Stage in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and appeared on Broadway in The Color Purple, Piper Goodeve (as Rose Gellman) who performed as Anne in the Off-Broadway production of Anne of Green Gables, Caitlainne Rose Gurreri (as Radio 1) who was last seen as Deena Jones in Dreamgirls at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolinas, Emily Jenda (as The Moon) who performed as Alice van Guilder in the NYC production of Drat! The Cat!, Gabrielle Porter (as Radio 3) who performed in the Off-Broadway production of Once on This Island, Christina Acosta Robinson (as Radio 2) who performed as Sarah in Ragtime at the Arvada Center in Colorado, Danielle K. Thomas (as The Washing Machine) whose credits include the Broadway, Off-Broadway and 1st National Tour productions of Avenue Q as Gary Coleman, James Van Treuren (as Grandpa Gellman) who appeared on Broadway in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Stephanie Umoh (as Emmie) who appeared as Sarah in the 2009 Broadway revival of Ragtime. Price Waldman (as Stuart Gellman) who performed in the 1997 New York City production of The Wind in the Willows which originated at Syracuse Stage, and Regina Marie Williams (as Dotty) whose regional credits include the Guthrie Theatre’s A Streetcar Named Desire, Caroline, or Change, and Crowns.

Also featured in the Syracuse Stage cast is local actor Séamus Gailor, as Noah Gellman. A fourth grader from Cortland, NY, Gailor has studied and performed with Cortland Performing Arts/PAI for the past six years and has appeared in the SUNY Cortland productions of The Nutcracker, Luna Park, and A Christmas Carol, as well as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Brigadoon for Cortland Repertory Theatre. After extensive local auditions, Gailor was cast in Caroline along with several other young actors involved in the show: Malachi Emmanuel (as Joe), Levonn L. Owens (as Jackie), Christof Deboni (Understudy Noah), and Elijah M. Theus (Understudy Jackie/Joe).

After a sold-out run at the Public Theatre in New York City, Caroline, or Change moved to Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre in 2004 and received six Tony nominations including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score. In 2007, the London production received the prestigious Olivier Award for Best New Musical.

Tony Kushner (Book and Lyrics) received the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for his play Angels in America, which he later adapted into a screenplay for HBO. Other work includes a translation of Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, performed in 2006 by Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, with music by Jeanine Tesori, at the Delacorte Theatre. Kushner’s work with Steven Spielberg includes the film Munich and an upcoming adaptation of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

Jeanine Tesori (Music) has written four Tony-nominated scores for Broadway: Twelfth Night, Thoroughly Modern Millie (lyrics, Dick Scanlan), Caroline, or Change (lyrics, Tony Kushner), and Shrek the Musical (lyrics, David Lindsay-Abaire). Her first off-Broadway musical, Violet, written with Brian Crawley, received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1997. She has been the recipient of many honors including Drama Desk and Obie awards, and was cited by ASCAP as being the first woman composer to have "two new musicals running concurrently on Broadway."


During the run of Caroline, or Change, an exhibit provided by the Onondaga Historical Association will be displayed in the Coyne Lobby at Syracuse Stage. The exhibit will depict life in Syracuse in the 1960s, offering a local perspective on the many changes taking place throughout the country. With images of a bustling downtown Syracuse, including JFK’s visit to Clinton Square, the OHA exhibit offers insight into a turbulent decade that forever changed our country’s civil rights, job opportunities, and urban landscapes.

Syracuse Stage is Central New York’s premier professional theatre. Founded in 1974, Stage has produced more than 235 plays in 38 seasons including a number of world, American, and East Coast premieres. Each season 90,000 patrons enjoy an adventurous mix of new plays and bold interpretations of classics and musicals featuring the finest theatre artists. In addition, Stage maintains a vital educational outreach program that annually serves over 30,000 students from 24 counties. A solid core of subscribers and supporters helps keep Syracuse Stage a vibrant artistic presence in Central New York. Additional support comes from the government, foundations, corporations and Syracuse University. Syracuse Stage is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the Arts and Cultural Leadership Alliance (ACLA), the University Hill Corporation and the East Genesee Regent Association. Syracuse Stage is a member of The League of Resident Theatres (LORT), the largest professional theatre association in the country.

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