Hayes Theatre Co is thrilled to announce the cast of the Australian Premiere of the Olivier Award-winning musical CAROLINE, OR CHANGE. Directed by four time Helpmann Award-winner Mitchell Butel, this uplifting and profound musical by Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Violet) will play at the Hayes from 23 August. Tickets are on sale now at hayestheatre.com.au

In the title role of Caroline Thibodeaux, the Gellman family’s maid, is Elenoa Rokobaro. Fresh from entertaining audiences in smash hit The Book of Mormon, Elenoa returns to the Hayes Theatre Co. where she stunned audiences in Violet and Side Show. The role of 10-year-old Noah Gellman will be shared by two talented young actors making their Hayes Theatre Co debuts, Ryan Yeates (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and newcomer Daniel Harris. In the roles of Noah’s father Stuart Gellman and new stepmother Rose Stopnick Gellman are Andrew Cutcliffe (Darlinghurst Nights, The Dismissal) and Amy Hack (American Psycho). Making the switch from radio presenting on Triple J’s Roots ‘n All to musical theatre is Nkechi Anele who is playing the role of Emmie Thibodeaux, Caroline’s teenage daughter. Acclaimed screen and stage actor Tony Llewellyn Jones (She Loves Me) returns to the Hayes to play Rose’s father Mr Stopnick, while Helpmann Award Winner Genevieve Lemon (Billy Elliot) plays Grandma Gellman. Playing Caroline’s friends and companions are The Voice’s Ruva Ngwenya (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Emily Havea (Grounded), together with Elijah Williams (The Rolling Stone) and Alexandra Fricot (Spring Awakening). 

Due to scheduling conflicts, previously announced performer Zahra Newman is no longer able to perform in this production. 

1963, Louisiana. The president is dead and America is on the verge of one of the greatest social movements of the 20th Century. The Gellman’s maid Caroline, a single mother of four, shares a special bond with eight-year old Noah, who is heartbroken after the death of his mother and his father’s remarriage. Sneaking down to the basement laundry to spend time with Caroline and a range of fantastical, anthropomorphic characters, Noah will find his relationship with Caroline tested by an attempt to put more money into Caroline’s pocket, devised by his stepmother, Rose.

Loosely based on Kushner’s own memories of growing up in Louisiana, Caroline, or Change features a stunning score by Jeanine Tesori, combining spirituals, blues, Motown, classical, and Jewish klezmer and folk music.

Mitchell Butel is one of Australia’s most prolific and versatile acting and directing talents and was recently appointed Artistic Director of the State Theatre Company of South Australia. He is one of the recipients of the 2019 Artist Led Initiative, supported by Frederic Marguerre and Rodrigo Martino, which began last year with the critically-acclaimed She Loves Me. Joining Butel in the creative team is musical director Lucy Bermingham (In The Heights, Violet), Yvette Lee (American Psycho), set designer Simon Greer (Violet), costume designer Melanie Liertz (Antigone) and lighting designer Alexander Berlage (American Psycho)

Director Mitchell Butel said, “Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori are two of the greatest theatre minds in the world. Performing in Kushner’s Angels in America for Belvoir and directing Tesori’s Violet for Blue Saint Productions have been two of the greatest and most rewarding experiences of my career. To now work on a project that combines their incredible artistry, humanity, wit, intelligence and soul is a dream come true. CAROLINE, OR CHANGE is about crossroads – choosing new paths, finding our voice and finding hope in the darkest of places. And it’s about unlikely friendships, in this case, a young 10-year-old Jewish boy, Noah and an African-American maid, Caroline who works in his family’s home in Louisiana in 1963. While the country is at a crossroads in terms of the civil rights movement, both Noah and Caroline face similar precipices. 

“Based on Kushner’s actual childhood, this tale is tough, joyous, magical, surreal and constantly compelling. And full of the best gospel, blues and soaring diva ballads you’re ever likely to hear in a theatre. Elenoa Rokobaro stopped the show nightly in my production of Violet with her voice of gold and I’m delighted to be working with her again as she scales new dramatic and musical heights in this powerhouse leading role. Backed by a phenomenal cast, the musical director of Violet Lucy Bermingham, Violet’s designer Simon Greer and lit by Alexander Berlage and choreographed by Yvette Lee both direct from the recent hit production of American Psycho, it is a dynamite crew. I can’t wait to help them bring Louisiana to Potts Point.”

Tickets for CAROLINE, OR CHANGE are available now at hayestheatre.com.au or by calling the Hayes Theatre Co box office during business hours on (02) 8065 7337.  


Venue: Hayes Theatre Co, 19 Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point 
Season: From 23 August 2019 
Times: Mon 6.30pm | Tues – Sat 7.30pm | Wed 1.00pm | Sat 2.00pm 
Price: $60-$75, concessions $55-65 
Bookings: hayestheatre.com.au | (02) 8065 7337