NEW YORK , Caissie Levy has moved to a modest Louisiana house from Broadway. She gave up being a queen to become a stepmother. She couldn't be happier.
Actor and singer Elsa, who was part of the original "Frozen" cast, is now starring in the revival of "Caroline, Or Change on Broadway. She plays a complex role in the musical, which explores America's racial, economic, and social divisions.
She says, "As terrifying as it was at first, I think it's one of the most joyful times on stage that my entire career," "I feel like a complete person up there."
This musical, which can be sung by all ages, features a book by Tony Kushner with songs by Jeanine Tesori. It is about Caroline, a Black maid and single mom in 1963 Louisiana.
Caroline works in the basement, wearing a starched uniform, to do laundry. She is angry that she has not been able to make the necessary changes in the world outside.
Sharon D Clarke, an English actor, plays Caroline. She makes her Broadway debut reprising the Olivier Award-winning role. Levy portrays Rose, the stepmom of a New York transplant who is unhappy in her new life. She is distant from her stepson, and unable to communicate with Caroline.
Director Michael Longhurst said Rose is now in a new place far from home in a relationship that isn’t working. She's also finding it difficult to live in a home with a maid.
He says, "I think Caissie does a wonderful job conveying that while still making it so enjoyable to listen to." "It's brave, I think it's challenging for an actress, I think that's how Caissie responds."
Although the musical was not yet finished when it premiered two decades ago, its meaning has grown since George Floyd's death forced Americans to face racial justice and equity.
"How crazy that we have to deal with this huge racial reckoning in the United States and around the world. It is so important. Levy states that we still have to deal with many of the same issues as in the 1960s.
Levy's Rose can be used as a touchstone for white audiences to reflect on their own feelings and relate to Caroline's discomfort in dealing with Caroline.
Rose is in my thoughts and prayers. Levy says that sometimes I feel the need to grab Rose by her shoulders and shake her hand.
Kushner asked Rose if she was the villain in the story and he answered her. He said, "No, not at any time. She believes she is doing the right thing. That was what she said to me."
"Every character is trying their best to find their place in this world and do the right things, and everyone feels alone and isolated. This is what I believe makes the story relatable and compelling. It's easy to imagine yourself as each character at various moments, and so see the world through their eyes.
Levy is juggling her work, long hours that begin at mid-afternoon at theater and end after the curtain falls after 10 p.m. -- while also maintaining a busy home life. She has a 5-year old son and a seven-month-old girl with actor and teacher David Reiser.
"I have the most wonderful husband on the planet. She laughs and says that she thinks that's about 90% of my functioning. "Life is hectic but amazing, I must say."
The pandemic had one silver lining: she was able to spend every night with her loved ones. She hasn't been home since then for dinner or bedtime.
It's been a difficult transition for my son, who just started kindergarten. This is a huge step for him at a new school. It's hard to not be there to pick my son up from school and ask him how he was doing.
Levy is also a star of "Frozen" and has appeared on Broadway in "Les Miserables", "Ghost the Musical," Hair, "Hair" and Hairspray.
Levy has had to climb the mountain of "Frozen" since he sang "Let It Go" while climbing a snowy mountain for Disney.
Levy says, "I was going to this very still character Elsa with all these big songs to a very jumpy and uncomfortable woman who can't even sing any note that's melodic in anyway."
"Caroline, Or Change" had just days to go before the pandemic that decimated Broadway in March 2020. Levy rode with her family to Canada, where she was born. She taught over Zoom and grieved the death of Nick Cordero, her childhood friend from COVID-19.
Her family moved to New Jersey during the pandemic. She and her husband, who teaches theatre at Stockton University in New Jersey, began to think about expanding their family. In March, they welcomed Talulah.
She laughs, saying, "We had a lot of food on our plates throughout the year." "This was a lot of change and it was so hilarious that I now do a show about change."