Black History Month kicks off with dramatic fare

The US Deep South, 1963, sets the stage for Caroline or Change, aToronto musical that dramatizes the racial tension of the American civil rights movement.

The Tony award winning musical featuring an all-local cast is among the many events sponsored by TD Bank this year to commemorate Black History Month.

The show is performed nightly by the Acting Upstage and Obsidian Theatre Companies at the Berkeley Street Theatre from January 21 to February 12.

Caroline, or Change, written by Tony Kushner, chronicles the life and relationships of a black maid and her daughter over a six week period in late 1963. It is fraught with tension related to the rise of Martin Luther King and the racial unease of the US Deep South.

Mitchell Marcus, the artistic producer with Acting Upstage, is thrilled to be a part of the Canadian premiere and hopes the show will be as successful here as it has been across the border.

“It’s a serious drama that uses the music of the period to tell the story; in many ways it feels like opera using music as the medium … but unlike opera it’s using the sounds of 1963,” Marcus said.

TD bank has partnered with Acting Upstage for celebrations of Black History Month and this year’s production only seemed a natural match.

“They are [TD] such major players … and because were aligning this show with Black History Month it was just a really great fit they decided to feature it as a key part of their Black History month programming,”. Marcus told the Toronto Observer.

The bank, through its ‘Then and Now’ initiative, has taken a very active role in the sponsorship of Black History Month events as well as various other cultural celebrations.

“We [TD] have a very specific community giving strategy that focuses on diversity” Said Eunice Chen manager of TD’s Diversity Portfolio and Community Relations.