Broadway’s ‘Caroline, Or Change’ And Debra Messing-Starrer ‘Birthday Candles’ Postponed Until Fall

Broadway’s Caroline, or Change, the revival of the Jeanine Tesori-Tony Kushner musical starring Sharon D Clarke, and Birthday Candles, the Noah Haidle play starring Debra Messing, have been postponed until Fall. The Roundabout Theatre Company productions had been set to open this Spring.

Clarke and Messing will remain with the productions.

“Our desire is to provide certainty and confidence to our artists, staff and audiences that we will come back from this hiatus with a full season,” said Roundabout Artistic Director/CEO Todd Haimes in a statement. “We are committed to the future of the theatre and its long-term sustainability in this crisis. Moving planned productions to dates certain in the fall protects the health and safety of everyone while ensuring employment for our staff and artists, creating clarity for our subscribers and donors, and providing a clear production timeline that allows everyone – on stage and off – to strategically plan to support the beautiful work coming to our stages in ’20-’21.”

In addition to the two Broadway shows, Roundabout’s Off Broadway productions, Jiréh Breon Holder’s …what the end will be and Dave Harris’ Exception To The Rule until later in the 2020-2021 season.

“The artists involved in Caroline or Change, Birthday Candles, Exception to the Rule and …what the end will be mean the world to Roundabout and we will bring them back next season,” Haimes said. “I am so thankful for the passion and commitment shown by everyone involved, to say yes and wait for the right time to return.”

Caroline, Or Change was to have started previews at Roundabout’s Studio 54 March 13 – the day following the industry-wide March 12 shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic – with an opening date of April 7. Clarke remains set to reprise the performance that won her a 2019 Olivier Award in the title role of the hit West End production directed Michael Longhurst. The Tesori-Kushner musical originally opened on Broadway in 2004 in a production directed by George C. Wolfe, starring Tonya Pinkins.

Birthday Candles, directed by  Vivienne Benesch, had been set to begin previews at the American Airlines Theatre on April 2, with an April 21 opening. The limited engagement would have run through June 21, and co-starred Andre Braugher and Enrico Colantoni. The play chronicles various birthdays in the life of a 101-year-old woman (played by Messing).

Casting beyond the leading ladies was not announced for the postponed Broadway productions.

The schedule shifts are the latest fall-out for Broadway’s Spring season following the COVID-19 shutdown, currently set to expire April 13 but expected to stretch at least weeks beyond. Producers for Hangmen and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? canceled their Spring productions, while Lincoln Center Theater – like Roundabout, a not-for-profit organization – postponed Flying Over Sunset until next season.

Roundabout’s previously announced 2020-2021 season will proceed as planned, including the Spring 2021 Broadway revival of the musical 1776, and Off Broadway productions of Lindsey’s Ferrentino’s The Year To Come, Anna Ziegler’s The Wanderers and Sanaz Toossi’s English.

The company’s limited engagement productions that were well into their runs at the time of the shutdown played their final performances, including A Soldier’s Play on Broadway, and, Off Broadway, Daniel Zaitchik’s musical Darling Grenadine and Hilary Bettis’ 72 Miles to Go. The Bettis play was set to run through May 3, and Roundabout is working to provide subscribers and ticket-holders a digital version of the production. 

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