The Australian Premiere of the Olivier Award-winning musical CAROLINE OR CHANGE starring Zahra Newman in August 2019. 2018 Helpmann Award winner Mitchell Butel returns to Hayes Theatre Co to direct this uplifting and profound musical by Tony Kushner (Angels In America) and Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Violet).

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.

In the lead role of Caroline will be Zahra Newman, who makes her Hayes Theatre Co debut. Fresh from The Book of Mormon.

Director Mitchell Butel said, “Performing in Tony Kushner's Angels In America for Belvoir, directing Jeanine Tesori's Violet for Blue Saint Productions/the Hayes and directing Zahra Newman in the SSO's Funny Girl were three of the most rewarding experiences of my career and life. To now combine the powerful intelligence, magic realism and wit of Kushner's words with Tesori's soaring and electric music with the charisma and ferocious talent of Zahra in the leading role of Caroline in Caroline or Change is a dream come true. I have loved this piece since I saw it on Broadway and can't wait to direct this wise, heartbreaking and heart-mending tale of an African American woman at a crisis moment in her life in Louisiana in the 60s, in the shadow of JFK and civil rights movement. It's about family, friendship, choice, change, rage and responsibility and it has a moon that sings. It's entirely unique and beautiful and I'm thrilled that it will be one of the Hayes artist led shows for 2019.”

Butel is one of Australia's most prolific recently won the Helpmann Award for Best Supporting Male Actor for his performance in Mr Burns, A Post Electric Play. He is one of the recipients of the 2019 Artist Led Initiative which began this year with She Loves Me. Joining Butel in the creative team is musical director Lucy Bermingham (In The Heights, Violet).

Tickets for CAROLINE OF CHANGE are available at or by calling the Hayes Theatre Co box office during business hours on (02) 8065 7337.


Director: Mitchell Butel

Musical Director: Lucy Bermingham

Starring Zahra Newman


Hayes Theatre Co, 19 Greenknowe Ave, Potts Point
From 23 August 2019
Mon 6.30pm | Tues – Sat 7.30pm | Wed 1.00pm | Sat 2.00pm $60-$75, concessions $55-65 | (02) 8065 7337

Photographer: Marnya Rothe

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