Caroline, or Change

2011/2012 Season

Caroline, or Change

About the Show

Produced in association with Obsidian Theatre Company
January 21-February 12, 2012 | Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs

Caroline, an African American maid to a Southern Jewish family, is struggling to keep afloat both emotionally and economically, while the young son of her employer tries to make sense of the world following the death of his mother. A Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel and Obie award-wining musical—and the only musical of the 21st century on New York Magazine’s shortlist for “The Greatest Musical of All-Time”—Caroline, or Change mixes fact and fantasy, symbolism and reality, plus a wide palette of musical styles to tell the story of ordinary people facing extraordinary change.

This event is part of TD’s Then and Now series, an inspiring and entertaining cultural showcase of one of Canada’s prominent communities. The lineup of events includes films, concerts, exhibitions, and performances by a host of Canadian and international artists. Visit for more information.

  • Production Sponsor TD Canada Trust
  • Leading Lights Don & Shirley Green


  • directed by Robert McQueen music direction by Reza Jacobs
    choreographed by Tim French
  • featuring Arlene Duncan, Neema Bickersteth, Jewelle Blackman, Deborah Hay, Alana Hibbert,
    Sterling Jarvis, Kaya Joubert Johnson, Londa Larmond, Michael Levinson, Cameron MacDuffee,
    Mary Pitt, Nicholas Rice, Derrick Roberts, Sabryn Rock, Shawn Wright
  • set design Michael Gianfrancesco lighting design Kimberly Purtell
    costume design Alex Amini sound design Peter McBoyle
  • stage manager Erin Fitzgerald apprentice stage manager Paul Beauchamp
    production manager Matthew Byrne assistant director Aadin Church assistant musical director Beau Dixon
Arlene Duncan

Arlene Duncan, Caroline Thibodeaux

Arlene Duncan is happy to be a singer and actor working in television, film, theatre and radio. Her theatre credits include: Sophisticated Ladies, Once on this Island, Jacob Two Two & the Hooded Fang, & the Dora Award-winning productions of Ain’t Misbehavin, The Nutmeg Princess, & The Who’s Tommy. Her recent film & televison credits include: Degrassi: The Next Generation, The Music Man, Eloise at Christmas Time, Silent Hill Revelation 3D, Being Erica, Flashpoint and the recurring role of Principal Mooser in Wingin’ It on the Family Channel. She is probably best known for her six seasons as café-owner Fatima Dinssa on the CBC series Little Mosque on the Prairie.

Neema Bickersteth

Neema Bickersteth, The Moon/The Radio

Neema Bickersteth is a graduate of the University of British Columbia, where she received both a Bachelor and Master of Music. Opera Canada described her as having “amazing control of her vocal palette, producing a warm and sensual colour”. Neema takes pleasure in collaborating with various artists, which has allowed her opportunities including the great honour of performing for the XIVth Dalai Lama, Shirin Abadi, and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu. More recently, Neema has been a part of some innovative new theatre with Urbanvessel, Native Earth Performing Arts, Nightswimming, Flight Works, Tapestry New Opera Works and Artistic Fraud.

Jewelle Blackman

Jewelle Blackman, The Radio

Jewelle is excited to return to the stage in Acting Up Stage’s production of Caroline or Change. Most recently Jewelle has been busy in the world of television guest starring in episodes of, Wingin’ It, Degrassi and The Border, and starring in the CW pilot Awakening. Select theatre credits include Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living In Paris, As You Like It, Cabaret (Stratford Shakespeare Festival); We Will Rock You, The Lion King (Mirvish Productions); Dreamgirls (The Grand Theatre/Stagewest) The Wizard of Oz (The Grand Theatre) and Crowns (Canadian Stage/Manitoba Theatre Centre/National Arts Centre). Jewelle is a graduate of Queen’s University and Berklee College of Music Summer Performance Program. “Love to Danny, Janay and Zion..for now and always.”

Deborah Hay

Deborah Hay, Rose Stopnick Gellman

Deborah joins Acting Up Stage following a season at the Shaw Festival, where she played Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Hesione Hushabye in Heartbreak House. Deborah’s credits include five seasons at the Shaw, three seasons at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and productions with Soulpepper, Tarragon Theatre, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Mirvish, Theatre Passe Muraille and many of Canada’s wonderful regional theatres. She’s delighted to be a part of the Caroline or Change company, exploring this intricate, fascinating and moving piece of theatre. Upcoming, Deb will be playing Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing and Alice in Henry V (Stratford Shakespeare Festival).

Alana Hibbert

Alana Hibbert, Dotty Moffett/The Radio

Alana is delighted to once again be working with Acting Up Stage on Caroline or Change having previously been involved in last year’s production of Parade. Other recent credits include Hairspray (Arts Club, Charlottetown Festival), Doubt (Theatre Northwest), Legends (The Grand Theatre), All Shook Up (Theatre Northwest), Seussical (Western Canada Theatre Company), Little Shop of Horrors (Stagewest and Magnus Theatre), Dreamgirls (Stagewest), Hair (CanStage) and The Wizard of Earth Sea (CC Physical Theatre Projects). Alana is a graduate of Simon Fraser University and The Canadian College of Performing Arts.

Sterling Jarvis

Sterling Jarvis, The Dryer/The Bus

Sterling Jarvis is an accomplished actor and singer who is honoured to make his debut with Acting Up Stage in such an amazing piece. Some of his Theatre credits include The Lion King (Mirvish Productions), Crowns (Canadian Stage/MTC/National Arts Centre), Of Mice and Men (Canadian Stage/Theatre Calgary), Britney Spears/Hillary Duff in We Will Rock You (Mirvish), The Overwhelming (Studio 180) and Ruined - Dora Nomination (Obsidian). His TV and Film appearances include Perfect Strangers (CBS), The Eleventh Hour (CTV), The West Wing (NBC), Felicity (Warner Bros.), The Sentinel (New Regency), ’Til Death Do Us Part (Global/Court TV), The Bridge (CBS/CTV ), The Border (CBC), Suits (NBC), Warehouse 13 (Sci-Fi), Life With Boys (YTV), Covert Affairs (USA) and most recently Lost Girl (Showcase) . Sterling is a two-time Juno Award nominee. His voice has been heard on numerous radio voice-overs and commercial jingles, as well as in the television themes for Zaboomafoo and Donkey Kong Country. “Much love to Sylvia and Aisha.”

Kaya Joubert Johnson

Kaya Joubert Johnson, Joe Thibodeaux

Kaya Joubert Johnson is an enthusiastic 9 year-old triple threat performer who loves the arts! Raised in an artistic family, she has been honing her natural talents, and performing professionally since the age of 5. She has done numerous commercials and television appearances. Kaya’s training includes Randolph Academy Triple Threat, Broadway Bound Academy, St. Albans Boys and Girls Club Dance classes and theatre camp, and ongoing private coaching in acting and vocals. She plays the piano and drums and loves acting, singing and dancing. In school she is a high achiever and participates in track, softball, choir and all of the talent shows. Kaya is very excited to be a part of the cast and production of Caroline, or Change.

Londa Larmond

Londa Larmond, The Washing Machine

Londa’s powerful voice led her to appear in the blockbuster film, The Blues Brothers 2000. Her solo debut album, Love Letters, established Londa as a one of Canada’s Gospel music trailblazers with international acclaim. A winner of the Canadian Urban Music Awards for Best Gospel Recording, Dove Awards nominee for Urban Album of the Year and a JUNO Award nominee for Best Gospel Album of the Year, Love Letters, introduced a new genre of soulful-jazz and urban-pop grooves that marked the beginning of a legacy. Londa attends and serves as a worship leader at Rhema Christian Ministries in Toronto, Canada under the leadership of Senior Pastor, Pastor Orim Meikle.

Michael Levinson

Michael Levinson, Noah Gellman

Michael is thrilled to have this opportunity to perform Noah Gellman in Acting Up Stage’s production of Caroline, or Change. Michael is ten years old, and he attends Grade 5 at Crestwood School in Toronto. His theatre credits include: Tarzan, Oliver!, and the lead role of Albert Peterson in his school production of Bye Bye Birdie. An upcoming role is that of Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol at the Rose Theatre in Brampton. He recently landed the role of the “German boy” in the CBC documentary, The Cold War Series. Michael would like to give special thanks to his voice teacher, Deva Neely, and to all the support and encouragement of his family and Maureen. A big thank you to Emily and all at The Talent House!

Cameron MacDuffee

Cameron MacDuffee, Stuart Gellman

Cam is happy to be doing a show in Toronto again after a long hiatus. Toronto theatre highlights include Assassins (Eclectic Theatre - Dora nomination) and Piaf (Jane Mallet Theatre). He spent four seasons at the Shaw Festival and has worked in theatre all across Canada. Recent favourites include the world premiere musicals The Bricklin (TNB) and Beyond Eden (Theatre Calgary/Vanccouver Playhouse), Sherlock Holmes - The Final Adventure (Grand), Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and Frank in Rocky Horror (Theatre Aquarius). Cam is Artistic Director of the Department of Everything and lives on the family farm in Caledon with his wife Karen.

Mary Pitt

Mary Pitt, Grandma Gellman

Mary is happy to be part of Acting up Stage’s production of Caroline or Change. She has performed across Canada and some of her stage credits include, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods (Canadian Stage); Music Man, The Boyfriend, Annie (Huron Country Playhouse); Grease, Napoleon (Elgin Theatre); Sunday in the Park with George (Equity Showcase); Man of LaMancha, The Miracle Worker, Gypsy (Stratford Festiva)l; Cinderella, Anne of Green Gables (Theatre Aquarius). Most recently, Mary was part of a workshop for Les Belles Soeurs – the English musical. She also performs in feature films and television.

Nicholas Rice

Nicholas Rice, Grandpa Gellman

Nick is delighted to appear in Caroline, or Change. A Winnipegger, he trained at UBC, and has lived in Toronto the past thirty years. Stage-credits include The Sunshine Boys (Chemainus Festival), Diary of Anne Frank (Segal Centre, Montreal), Oliver! (Centaur, Montreal), and Zadie’s Shoes (Alberta Theatre Projects). Nicholas also appears in the comedy classic Look Who’s Talking – as Kirstie Alley’s toupee-wearing date. His next stage-appearance will be as Roy Cohn – in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America with Winnipeg Jewish Theatre. He dedicates his performance in Caroline to the memory of Gerry Salsberg, Wayne Robson, and Cayle Chernin.

Derrick Roberts

Derrick Roberts, Jackie Thibodeaux

Derrick Roberts is 13 years old and is very excited about performing in Caroline, or Change. In his spare time, Derrick plays sports, acts and sings. He is hoping to become a singer, actor or baseketball player and wants have a great career and travel the world.

Sabryn Rock

Sabryn Rock, Emmie Thibodeaux

Sabryn Rock is an actor, singer, improviser and a graduate of the Acting program at the National Theatre School of Canada. Originally from Regina, she has performed all over Saskatchewan and Ontario. Some favourite theatre credits include: Ruined (Obsidian Theatre/Nightwood Theatre), Gas for the Next Stage Festival (, King Lear, The Comedy of Errors (Driftwood Theatre Group), Honk! (Globe Theatre, Regina) and Little Shop of Horrors (Persephone Theatre, Saskatoon). Since moving to Toronto, Sabryn has primarily focused on play development having assisted on numerous workshops for new plays. She’s also done work in film & television including My Babysitter’s a Vampire, Degrassi, Flashpoint, Against the Wall and most recently The Story of Luke. When she’s not performing, she loves working with youth as an arts educator for various theatre companies around Toronto. Sabryn is over the moon about working with Acting Up Stage on such a unique and challenging show.

Shawn Wright

Shawn Wright, Mr. Stopnick

Shawn most recently played 2 murderers-Bill Sykes in Oliver! (National Arts Centre) and Andrew Trevor in Murdoch Mysteries (CityTV). Also, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia (original American cast), Stratford Festival (6 seasons/Guthrie Award), Shaw Festival (2 seasons including the lead in Good News), Les Miserables, Lord of the Rings (world premiere) , Ragtime (original Broadway workshop cast with Joel Grey, Donna Murphy and Audra McDonald) and leads in works by Sondheim, Tennessee Williams and Moliere. Upcoming: Father in Next To Normal in Winnipeg. This is Shawn’s 30th year as a professional actor. He has no formal training.

Robert McQueen

Robert McQueen, Director

Robert directed Acting Up Stage Company’s production of The Light In The Piazza, which was nominated in the Best Production of a Musical category at the 2010 Dora Mavor Moore awards. Other recent productions include: Capriccio for Pacific Opera, Victoria, I Am My Own Wife for the Belfry Theatre, Victoria and The Magic Flute for Vancouver Opera, which will be remounted during VO’s 2013 season. Additionally, in collaboration with the NGO Cambodian Living Arts, Robert directed the world premiere of Where Elephants Weep in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and is currently continuing his association with CLA on the development of a new production based on the traditional Cambodian theatre practice called Lakhon Yike. Robert is also working with composer Leslie Uyeda and poet Rachel Rose on a new opera which will be premiered in August 2012 in Vancouver.

Jacobs Reza

Reza Jacobs, Musical Director

Reza Jacobs is a composer, sound designer and music director, known for his versatility in style and genre. His composition and sound design credits include The Madonna Painter at Factory Theatre, Candida and Serious Money at The Shaw Festival, Shakuntala at Pleiades Theatre and, as Music Director, Assassins by Birdland/Talk is Free Theatre (Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best Musical, 2010). For Acting Up Stage, Reza has music directed and arranged A Man of No Importance and Edges, as well as the The Beatles, Paul Simon, Michael Jackson, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen tribute concerts. Outside Canada, Reza has composed and performed as a musician for Sovanna Phum, one of the leading Cambodian puppet and dance companies, touring Cambodia and then the United States with The Story of the Dog. This fall, Reza will tour with Andrea Martin as Music Director of her one-woman show, Everything Must Go.

Tim French

Tim French, Choreographer

Recent Director and/or Choreographer credits include: To Life (Harold GreenJewish Theatre) which he co-wrote with Avery Saltzman; The Fantasticks and A Christmas Carol (Soulpepper); [title of show] and Altar Boyz (Angelwalk Theatre). Other credits include: Evita/Guys and Dolls/Camelot (MTC/Theatre Calgary/Citadel); Dreamgirls(The Grand/Theatre Aquarius); Carousel/The Boy Friend/Damn Yankees (Drayton Festival); multiple productions for Stage West which include 5 Rock & Roll Revues that he co-created. He has worked as Resident Director and or Choreographer for the Toronto Mirvish productions of The Producers and Dirty Dancing. Tim’s work has been regularly nominated in multiple categories for Dora, Betty Mitchell, and Sterling awards.

Michael Gianfrancesco

Michael Gianfrancesco, Set Design

Throughout eight seasons at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, he has designed productions at the Festival, Avon and Studio theatres.
Recent work includes: One Touch of Venus - costumes; In Good King Charles’s Golden Days – costumes (Shaw Festival); Le Docteur Miracle, L’Heure Espagnole (Royal Conservatory of Music); Parade (Studio 180/Acting Up Stage); The 39 Steps; White Christmas – set (Manitoba Theatre Centre); In Colour (National Ballet of Canada) and the production design for the film Christmas Dreams (CBC). In 2006 he designed the world premier of The Midnight Court for Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, which toured to the Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He is a recipient of the Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design from the Ontario Arts Foundation.

Kimberly Purtell

Kimberly Purtell, Lighting Design

Kimberly is a Toronto based lighting designer for theatre, opera and dance. Her designs have been critically acclaimed on both the national and international stage. They have been seen across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Russia, Prague, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. She has been nominated for 12 Dora Mavor Moore Awards, winning twice and is a recipient of the Pauline McGibbon Award. Previously for Acting Up Stage she designed Parade. Recent designs include The Little Years (Stratford), Forests (Tarragon), The Drowsy Chaperone (Theatre Calgary & MTC), Our Class (Studio 180), Svadba (Queen of Puddings) and This is What Happens Next (Necessary Angel).

Alex Amini

Alex Amini, Costume Design

Alex designs for several theatre companies across Southern Ontario. Recent favourites include: The War Show, The 39 Steps, and A Chorus Line (Brampton ACT Productions), Hairspray (Port Hope Festival Theatre), The Light in the Piazza (Acting Up Stage), To Life (Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company), as well as The Waves (Harley Dog Productions, Toronto Fringe Festival). As always, thanks to Carmen, for saving my life.

Peter McBoyle

Peter McBoyle, Sound Design

Credits include Come Fly Away (Broadway/National Tour); Sinatra Dance With Me (Vegas); Barrymore (Stratford, Broadway & Toronto); Camelot, Richard III, Shakespeare’s Will, Kiss Me Kate, Jacques Brel is…, The Tempest, West Side Story, Krapp’s Last Tape, Fiddler on the Roof, King Lear, Oklahoma!, (Stratford); Gypsy, High Society (Shaw); Legally Blonde, Grease (National Tours); Orpheus Descending, Medea (Mirvish); Fire, The House OfMartin Guerre (Canadian Stage); Oliver, The Wrong Son, Mary’s Wedding (NAC); Rocky Horror, Sweeney Todd, Beauty and the Beast, Cabaret (Citadel
Theatre). Upcoming projects include 42nd Street, Charlie Brown, Henry V and A Word or Two for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Erin Fitzgerald, Stage Manager

Erin is very excited to be a part of this interesting and rewarding project. Other credits include Jersey Boys (Dancap productions), Secret Garden, Dirty Dancing, The Harder They Come (Mirvish Productions), Theatre Aquarius, Drayton Entertainment, The Globe Theatre, The Manitoba Theatre Centre. Thank you to Mike for the love and laughter.

Paul Beauchamp

Paul Beauchamp, Apprentice Stage Manager

Other theatre credits: as apprentice stage manager, Mirvish Productions (Ghost Stories), Tarragon Theatre (More Fine Girls, The Year of Magical Thinking), Soulpepper (What the Butler Saw), St. Lawrence Parks Commission (A Seaway Story); as intern, Canadian Stage (artistic intern); Tarragon Theatre (General Manager intern), Opera Lyra Ottawa (summer intern); as assistant stage manager, Luminato/Dash Arts/Edinburgh International Festival (1001 Nights), Luminato (A Poe Cabaret); as stage manager, anitafrika! (benu), Young Centre (CanWest Cabaret) Other: Paul is currently the General Manager for the AMY (Artists Mentoring Youth) Project. Paul has a B.F.A. in Performance Production from the Ryerson Theatre School.

Matthew Byrne

Matthew Byrne/Maph Productions Inc., Production Manager

Matthew is a graduate of the Professional Theatre Department of John Abbott College in Montreal. He has been working in theatre for the past 15 years on all levels from amateur to professional companies throughout Canada. Through Maph Productions Inc. Matthew works with Toronto’s leading Performing Arts Producers, Event Planners and Festivals producing high quality award winning productions. Maph Productions Inc. provides production management and coordination, technical direction as well as site and event logistics. Selected credits include Just For Laughs Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Fashion Week, Assassins (Birdland/ Talk is Free), Eternal Hydra (Crow’s Theatre) and The Light in The Piazza (Acting up Stage Company).

Aadin Church

Aadin Church, Assistant Director

A seasoned performer, Aadin Church has had many career highlights that go beyond the parameters of his beginnings in Gospel music. He has performed in Broadway musicals like Miss Saigon, Disney’s The Lion King, The Buddy Holly Story and appeared in Dreamgirls, to name a few. He has performed with Mariah Carey, Deborah Cox and the legendary Patti LaBelle. Lately Aadin has been writing, producing and directing shows such as Wait for Me, Damaged and Evolution of Gospel Music and was privileged to be an associate Director for Ruined’ with Obsidian Theatre Company. Aadin is extremely excited to be the Assistant Director for Caroline or Change and is elated to be working with such an awesome production team at Acting Up Stage Company.

Beau Dixon

Beau Dixon, Assistant Musical Director

Beau is pleased to be part of this wonderful production as apprentice to Reza Jacobs. Beau is a composer, musician, producer, playwright, actor and director. Two of his one act plays (From Here To Africville, Once A Flame) were produced at Factory Theatre (Toronto) and he has performed at 4th Line Theatre for numerous seasons. He is also artistic director for Firebrand Theatre (Peterborough). Beau would like to thank Rupal at Obsidian and Mitchell and Reza for this great opportunity.


The best production Acting Up Stage has produced! Arlene Duncan delivers, hands down, one of the finest musical theatre performances ever seen in this city.

— The Toronto Star

*** 1/2 (out of 4). A sharp-as-a-tack Canadian premiere.

— The Globe and Mail

***** (out of 5). If you’re one of those who like theatre that risks much and wins big, Caroline, or Change is a must-see.

— The Toronto Sun

NNNNN (out of 5). First-class. Come prepared to think and feel deeply.


The most exciting, the most moving, simply the most. A triumphant joint production.

— National Post

It is this year’s must-see.

— The Charlebois Post

This Canadian Premiere production of Caroline, or Change is first rate!

— AM 740

****1/2 (out of 5). A big, bold, belting delight.

— Torontoist

A powerful work that shifts the boundaries of what a musical can be.

— Stage Door

A superb production featuring a phenomenally talented cast.

— Mooney On Theatre

The first great piece of musical theater of the 21st century.

— Boston Globe

A high point in my theatre-going experience. Simple and profound, ravishing and revolutionary.

— New Yorker

A monumental achievement in musical theatre.

— New York Observer

Manna from heaven.

— USA Today

An extraordinary new musical.

— The New York Times

Miraculous. Let’s get it over with and call Caroline, or Change a masterpiece.

— Dallas Morning News

A turning point in musical-theater history.

— San Diego Union-Tribune

Groundbreaking, daring, beautifully and profoundly humane.

— Time Out New York

A show that really does have the power to change the cultural landscape.

— Guardian