| Caroline, Or Change (2004 Original Broadway Cast)
Music by: Jeanine Tesori
Lyrics and Book by: Tony Kushner
A 39-year old divorcee with four kids, Caroline Thibodeaux is a black maid living in Louisiana in 1963 and she's being confronted with change - two kinds, in particular. There's a new world on the horizon, visible in the social upheaval of the Civil Rights movement, which Caroline seems determined not to notice. But then there's a more immediate sort of change that she can't ignore: nickels and dimes and quarters, resting at the bottom of a cup. The kind of change that could help a mother give her kids a better life.
Caroline spends much of her day in a dank basement, washing, drying, and ironing clothes for the Gellman family while listening to the radio. Young Noah Gellman, who cherishes his after-school hours with the quiet and angry Caroline, is accustomed to retrieving change left in his pants pockets from the bleach cup that the maid keeps on a shelf; but Noah's chipper stepmother Rose, determined to break the forgetful boy of this habit, decrees that Caroline will henceforth be allowed to keep any money she finds. This well-meaning gesture on Rose's part ends up creating a crisis for Caroline, who doesn't want to take money from a child but covets the cash for the benefit of her children. The situation eventually leads to a falling-out between Noah and Caroline, and a larger point about the corrupting influence of money is made abundantly clear.