Review Roundup: Tantrum Theater's CAROLINE, OR CHANGE

Review Roundup: Tantrum Theater's CAROLINE, OR CHANGE

Tantrum Theater continues its second season with the moving Tony Award-nominated musical, "Caroline, or Change," running July 5-July 22.

Professional theater artists from across the country, including multiple Broadway and national tour veterans, will bring to life playwright Tony Kushner's ("Angels in America") enthralling story and composer Jeanine Tesori's ("Fun Home") powerful score at the Abbey Theater in Dublin.

"Change come fast and change come slow." It's 1963 in Louisiana, and for Caroline Thibodeaux the world is changing too fast. The president has just been shot and a fight for racial justice is sweeping the nation. Caroline, a black maid serving a Jewish household, desires only a good night's rest and a decent life for her children. A melodious moon provides the commentary as her relationship with young Noah, the precocious son of her employers, becomes complicated by pocket change. With its moving rock, gospel, and klezmer score, this exquisite musical is a riveting statement addressed to a nation still gripped by inequality.

Let's see what the critics have to say! (Michael Grossberg): At the core of the 2½-hour social-realist drama is the relationship between Caroline and Noah (Joshua Turchin), the Jewish family's lonely boy. Kushner weaves poignant conflict from the pocket change that Caroline finds in Noah's pants while doing laundry. As Noah's insecure stepmother, Rose - who urges Caroline to keep the change - Amy Blackman earns sympathy from her frustrations with Caroline, Noah and her remote husband (Stanley Bahorek), who is still grieving the death of his first wife.

Columbus Underground (Richard Sanford): Caroline's relationship with Noah doesn't get fleshed out as much but their time on stage together does drive home the gap of class is truly unbridgeable and the boy has a widening vista in front of him Caroline's children will never have half of. The moment when Noah says, "Can we be friends again" and Caroline, with no malice but an unimpeachable sense of what is says "Weren't ever friends." Turchin does a fine job with a character who's realistically grating but I'm not sure anyone could overcome how thin and repetitive his scenes seem. Even if the 10-year-old doesn't know it now, he's another boss. Her complicated relationship with Emmie is one of the highlights of the show and AriAnna Hanson is a star. Hanson implies everything she's inherited from Caroline, including a spine of steel that she hopes will let her claim more of the world. Hanson's scenes with Gordon Stanley's Mr. Stopnick are charming and in one infectious, swinging song with Sumlin and Watson (also very good throughout), she implies how much has been asked of her as the oldest child in the house and the grace with which she's dealt with that pressure.

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