“Caroline, or Change” at Court Theatre
Sometimes art has its moment and Court Theatre’s production of Tony Kushner’s musical about the relationship of a young Jewish boy and his African-American maid, set in the South in the sixties against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, was the right production of the right show at the right time. E. Faye Butler owned the theater as the angry, weary Caroline Thibodeaux, and every single cast member delivered superior performances that brought even the smallest characters to life. In director Charles Newell’s hands, playwright Tony Kushner’s genius—he of “Angels in America” fame, for God’s sake, talk about a guy who can operate on the highest level in the widest range—was more humbling than ever. For “Caroline” worked on multiple levels at once, without ever resorting to didacticism. Entertainment, history, contemplation of morality and multiple narratives all shared the small stage without crowding. Set all this in Hyde Park during the stretch run to Barack Obama’s election and you have the makings of a hit. And it was, setting the all-time box office record for Court Theatre. There’s talk of a commercial remounting, with this cast, as soon as it can be reassembled. If it happens, get in line.
“Hay Fever” at Circle Theatre
Best of Chicago 2008