Best Musical: 'Caroline, Or Change' by Tony Kushner

StillPointe Theatre Initiative, 811 Cathedral St., stillpointetheatre.com

A young theater company producing Tony Kushner's “Caroline, or Change” should be a recipe for disaster. Kushner's book is a miniature epic, with a 16-character cast tackling race relations in Louisiana around the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy through the microcosm of a Jewish family and its African-American maid, and Jeanine Tesori's score swirls klezmer around gospel, R&B, and the blues. Somehow set designer Ryan Haase put together a stage/props situation that accommodated the musical's multiple settings/situations, director Darnell Patrick Morris wrangled the impeccably talented cast into realizing these challenging characters, the musicians pulled off the topsy-turvy score, and in Theresa Cunningham, Stillpointe showcased an actor capable of handling this incredibly difficult lead role. It's frighteningly ambitious to tackle this musical on a DIY budget, and it takes a gobsmacking amount of chutzpah to pull it off.

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