Firebrand Theatre has announced plans to open its second season with the musical Caroline, or Change. Lili-Anne Brown will direct the piece by Angels in America author Tony Kushner and Fun Home composer Jeanine Tesori for a September run at the Den Theatre’s main stage; it will be the first Chicago production of the show since Court Theatre’s 2006 staging, which earned a rare six-star review from Time Out Chicago. (Yes, for a few years we had a six-star rating scale; yes, it was dumb.)
Rashada Dawan will play the title role in Brown’s production, which will be produced in association with TimeLine Theatre Company. The show is somewhat inspired by Kushner’s childhood growing up Jewish in Louisiana; Caroline is an African-American maid working for a Jewish family in the 1960s South, while the civil rights movement flickers on the edges of her consciousness.
Kushner is enjoying renewed attention at the moment, with the first Broadway revival of his landmark Angels in America just opened and earning 11 Tony Award nominations this morning—the most such nods for any non-musical play in Tony history. (Read my colleague Adam Feldman’s five-star review here.)
The second half of Firebrand’s two-show season will be the Chicago premiere of Michael John LaChiusa’s Queen of the Mist, about Anna Edson Taylor’s bid to become the first woman to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel at the turn of the 20th century. Elizabeth Margolius will direct for a May 2019 opening, also at the Den.