Killeen’s Vive Les Arts Theatre has set its sights on an ambitious, through-composed musical, and it needs a few good men, women and children.
Auditions for “Caroline, or Change” are from 7 to 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the theater. “Everybody (who is cast) has to sing,” said Toschia Moffet, director, so hopefuls must bring either sheet music or an audio track of accompaniment music to sing along with. Auditions will be closed; only the actor, director and a few key crew members will be privy to each person’s onstage tryout.
The message-laden show tells the story of Caroline, a black woman working as a maid for a Jewish family.
It’s Louisiana, it’s 1963, and she is allowed to keep pocket change she finds in the laundry, which becomes a point of pride as well as a crisis for the woman, who can’t cope with the sea changes in her life and in the nascent civil rights movement.
Through-composed means that very little dialogue is spoken — most lines are sung, and that’s where the fun begins.
The book and lyrics are by Tony Kushner and the musical score was penned by Jeanine Tesori in a combination of Motown, classical music, blues, folk, spirituals and Jewish klezmer music.
When “Caroline, or Change” opened in New York, the New York Times called the musical “extraordinary.” Time magazine noted: “The score is almost entirely sung through — but with a story so grounded in the ordinary details of life in a specific place and time that it almost seems to have discovered a new genre.”
Roles include both humans and inanimate objects: The Dryer (as in “clothes”), The Washing Machine, The Bus, The Radio, The Moon.
“Six Caucasian actors will be cast,” Moffet said, “from age 7 to 70.” African-American actors will make up the majority of the ensemble, family members of Caroline and her friends.
Auditionees with no prior acting experience are welcome to try out, Moffet said. “And there is minimal dancing. We also are looking for backstage helpers — behind the scenes staff.”
Once chosen, cast and crew must commit to at least three nights per week, in addition to the dress rehearsal and scheduled performances: Feb. 7-9 and Feb. 14-16.
Moffet has directed in Austin and even met playwright Kushner in New York through a mutual friend.
“If you liked the movie ‘The Help,’ then you’ll thoroughly enjoy ‘Caroline, or Change,’” she said.
“The music is great, and we’ll have a full-fledged orchestra.”