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Scribe plays musical machines

Kushner applies himself to 'Change'

NEW YORK — A singing bus, played by thesp Chuck Cooper lugging a headlight in each arm, heralds, “The president is dead!” in “Caroline, or Change,” Tony Kushner‘s first musical.

Who else but Kushner could combine the comic, the tragic, the fantastic, and the political in such fashion? Kushner appeared last Thursday with tunesmith Jeanine Tesori and helmer George C. Wolfe to present a few ditties to the press at the Public Theater, where his loosely autobiographical tuner about a black maid in a Jewish household in 1963 Lake Charles, La., is in rehearsal for an Oct. 28 start date.

In addition to the bus song, the cast presented bluesy pop number “Salty Tears,” sung by a radio as personified by a female trio.

“How do you dramatize internal torment and dreams and aspirations?” Kushner said. “The theatrical solution seemed to me to be to give voice to the things (Caroline the maid) spends most of her time with: these appliances.”

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