Karole Foreman plays the maid with a dilemma in PCPA Theaterfest's Caroline, or Change.

Karole Foreman plays the maid with a dilemma in PCPA Theaterfest’s Caroline, or Change. (Luis Escobar photo)

If you were to set yourself to imagining what a collaboration between Tony Angels in America Kushner and Jeanine Shrek the Musical Tesori would look and sound like, I doubt you would come up with something like the musical Caroline, or Change, with which the PCPA Theaterfest will close its 2010-11 season.

Directed by Patricia Troxel, with musical direction by Brad Carroll, choreography by Michael Jenkinson, sets by DeAnne Kennedy, costumes by Juliane Starks, lighting by Tamar Geist and sound by Elisabeth Rebel, Caroline, or Change will open at the Marian Theater in Santa Maria on Thursday and run through Sept. 18.

The show is set in Lake Charles, La., in 1963 — just before, if you know your American history, all hell breaks loose.

As PCPA sets the scene: “A divorced African American maid, Caroline Thibodeaux, is doing laundry in the basement of the Gellmans’ home, a Southern Jewish family. Caroline and 8-year-old Noah Gellman are reluctant to get swept up in the sea of change around them. Noah has lost his mother to cancer. His father has married his wife’s best friend Rose, who tries to break through to the boy and Caroline. Unable to give Caroline a raise, and with a plan to teach Noah the value of money — he tends to leave change in his pockets — Rose announces, ‘Caroline can keep whatever change she finds in laundry.’”

This is not the neat solution it first appears. Caroline has high principles and an unshakable sense of dignity. She is reluctant, to put it mildly, to provide for her family in this quasi-dishonest fashion, and her reservations reach critical mass when she finds a $20 bill in the laundry.

Caroline, or Change, with book and lyrics by Kushner and music by Tesori, stars Karole Foreman as Caroline, Carter Thomas as Noah Gellman, Joanna Jones as Emmie, Elizabeth Stuart as Rose Stopnick Gellman and Michael Tremblay as Mr. Stopnick, plus Cicily Daniels, Kitty Balay, Billy Breed, Kathryn McCreary, Katrina McGraw and Nohealani Alisa Cambra.

Caroline, or Change plays at 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays, and at 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Tickets are $28 to $30 for adults, with discounts for children, students and seniors.

For single tickets and more information, click here or call the box office at 805.922.8313.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at gerald.carpenter@gmail.com.